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Crowdsourcing the Department of Public Works

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the soon-we'll-have-a-government-wiki-office dept.

Government 143

blackbearnh writes "Usually, Gov 2.0 deals mainly with outward transparency of government to the citizens. But SeeClickFix is trying to drive data in the other direction, letting citizens report and track neighborhood problems as mundane as potholes, and as serious as drug dealers. In a recent interview, co-founder Jeff Blasius talked about how cities such as New Haven and Tucson are using SeeClickFix to involve their citizens in identifying and fixing problems with city infrastructure. 'We have thousands of potholes fixed across the country, thousands of pieces of graffiti repaired, streetlights turned on, catch basins cleared, all of that basic, broken-windows kind of stuff. We've seen neighborhood groups form based around issues reported on the site. We've seen people get new streetlights for their neighborhood, pedestrian improvements in many different cities, and all-terrain vehicles taken off of city streets. There was also one case of an arrest. The New Haven Police Department attributed initial reports on SeeClickFix to a sting operation that led to an arrest of two drug dealers selling heroin in front of a grammar school.'"

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143 comments

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Heroin? (-1, Flamebait)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821838)

Awesome, heroin. Let's execute them. Haphazardly selling something seriously deadly for ingestion is akin to poisoning people.

Re:Heroin? (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821882)

I'll just take this time to point out that I've never heard of anyone selling liquor in front of an elementary school. If you want to get heroin off the streets, put it in well regulated stores instead.

Re:Heroin? (0)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821998)

Alcohol's a cross between not-that-bad and impossible to regulate. I make my own alcohol.

Heroin is pretty fucking toxic. We're not talking Marijuana toxic here (I'd rather cigarettes and weed be gone too, though cigarettes are more like alcohol but with EVERYONE that drinks being a huge alcoholic drinking contaminated booze). We're talking a chemical with no benefit, that makes you literally need it all the time to even stay on a normal level once you're hooked; and if you cut it off completely after a certain point, you die from withdrawal.

Alcohol will kill you from withdrawal too. Even most alcoholics don't get to that point. It's really, really fucking hard. Heroin will do it way easy; and the natural course of exposure is to tend towards that addiction, strongly. It's also much easier to overdose.

This is a different problem than liquor, just like carrying a small rocket launcher is a different problem than carrying a 6 bullet revolver.

Re:Heroin? (5, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822192)

Alcohol's a cross between not-that-bad and impossible to regulate.

We seem to be doing a better job of it than heroin.

Heroin is pretty fucking toxic.

Heroin is actually quite non-toxic. If your breathing is supported, you can survive pretty much any level of an opiate. It's not toxic to the liver, or pretty much any other organ.

We're talking a chemical with no benefit, that makes you literally need it all the time to even stay on a normal level once you're hooked

But it's worth mentioning that with dependence comes tolerance. When an opiate addict is maintained on the dose they need, they can carry out an otherwise normal life. Dr. William Halsted, for instance, had a brilliant surgical career and co-founded Johns Hopkins while maintaining himself on morphine. That doesn't happen with alcoholics.

if you cut it off completely after a certain point, you die from withdrawal.

That is simply not true. Unless your health is already seriously compromised it is not possible to die from opiate withdrawal.

Heroin will do it way easy; and the natural course of exposure is to tend towards that addiction, strongly. It's also much easier to overdose.

It's pretty easy to avoid an overdose, if you know what dose you're taking. Problem is, black market heroin is un-measured. Someone who could drop into a pharmacy and pick up a premeasured dose of heroin would be very unlikely to die from overdose.

This is a different problem than liquor, just like carrying a small rocket launcher is a different problem than carrying a 6 bullet revolver.

It's different, but not altogether worse. Heroin is easier to get addicted to, but the addiction is not as bad. Alcohol makes people more violent. Heroin makes people very mellow. It's easier to overdose on heroin, but you don't see the same sort of chronic toxicity you do with alcohol. You can't objectively claim that one is worse than another.

Re:Heroin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31822682)

if you cut it off completely after a certain point, you die from withdrawal.

Bluefoxlucid betrays his own ignorance. Alcohol is, in fact, one of the few drugs with lethal withdrawal [yahoo.com] [forgive the source, too lazy to look for respectable one]. Furthermore, I don't know any sane person who considers marijuana more hazardous than alcohol. And I have plenty of experience with alcohol, it is my namesake.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:Heroin? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822724)

To be fair, he did say "Alcohol will kill you from withdrawal too."

Re:Heroin? (1)

Garth Smith (1720052) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822884)

It is my opinion that a junkie should have to get his fix at a health center, complete with counciling, offers to go to rehab, and literature. The opportunities to help a junkie get clean would be much more numerous than if he goes to his shady drug dealer instead. (Bonus: We get rid of the black markets and reduce our prison population of non-violent criminals.)

Re:Heroin? (1)

poena.dare (306891) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822934)

What??? No mention of tobacco?

Re:Heroin? (2, Informative)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 4 years ago | (#31823336)

> Alcohol makes people more violent. Heroin makes people very mellow.

Wrong, and wrong. In many cultures, alcohol that makes people mellow, and sometimes there's something else that makes them aggressive. In one peculiar culture, imported western alcohol consumed in cities made people aggressive and traditional alcohol consumed in villages made them mellow.

Learned effects, people. We know it from comparative anthropology, and we know it from large, double blind studies performed in the sixties and seventies: alcohol changes you the way you expect it to change you.

People use the supposed effects largely as excuses. Alcohol gives you the excuse to say what you want to say, or occasionally punch who you want to punch. Someone who beats his wife when drinking isn't exactly excused, but he's called a drunk. If he did it when cold sober he would be called a psychopath instead. Both alcohol and cannabis are useful excuses for your grades not being as good as they "could" be.

What about heroin? Heroin, the king of chemical excuses around here, gives a rather plausible explanation for your life being a mess. (If you've heard the life story of a couple of street addicts, you know there's usually more than enough explanations already, but it's more appealing to be a victim of a powerful chemical than just not coping with a messed-up life. )

Re:Heroin? (3, Informative)

Moryath (553296) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822228)

Alcohol regulation gets fucking stupid.

We have a (responsible!) liquor store chain in my town. They have a store that is ~1400ft (as the crow flies) from an elementary school. Never a record of the store ever selling to minors, and they've got a store policy of catching and reporting fake ID's to the police.

Last year, the idiot town council changed the limits on liquor licenses from 700ft to 1500 ft, and changed it from "shortest path" to "as the crow flies" measurement, then tried to get the store's liquor license retroactively revoked on the grounds that they didn't meet the new (illegally ex-post-facto) legal standard.

It's ridiculous. But then what do you expect when you live in a town dominated by "no drinking, no dancing, no fun, the-stick-up-our-ass-has-a-stick-up-its-ass" Southern Baptists?

Re:Heroin? (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 4 years ago | (#31823382)

Changing the law like this is not in fact illegal. If they change the law to make dancing illegal, prosecuting you for dancing in the past would be illegal, but you better stop dancing right now.

Re:Heroin? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31823442)

Well, if that town is, by any chance in Alabama [wikipedia.org] , I would immediately report anybody with a stick up their ass to the authorities...

Re:Heroin? (2, Insightful)

MarcQuadra (129430) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822280)

The fact that it's so addictive and harmful are reasons to regulate.

I've lost a few friends and family to heroin. It's already here. The $80B we spend trying to keep it away only puts helpless addicts into contact with unscrupulous armed drug dealers.

If there were pharmacies that were secure like banks where addicts could go and buy limited amounts, we'd be much better off. Does it totally fix the problem? Absolutely not, but I'd like to know that my local junkie can peaceably go down to the store and buy his fix of clean, regulated regulated smack for the day and offset my taxes a bit.

Cigarettes are a -great- model, they're -maddeningly- addictive. I've collected wet butts off the ground, dried them in the toaster, and rolled them in wrapping paper to get my fix (long ago). I'll gladly pay $9 for a pack that costs under $1 to make if it keeps me sane. I want the same model for heroin addicts.

Also, it's not the -users- of drugs out there that tend to be violent (in my experience), it's the dealers and runners. Cut the dealers out of the loop and replace them with secure distributors and bank-type retail and you've just grown the economy -and- cut a huge amount of crime and lowered enforcement costs.

Re:Heroin? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822308)

Heroin is pretty fucking toxic. We're not talking Marijuana toxic here (I'd rather cigarettes and weed be gone too, though cigarettes are more like alcohol but with EVERYONE that drinks being a huge alcoholic drinking contaminated booze). We're talking a chemical with no benefit, that makes you literally need it all the time to even stay on a normal level once you're hooked; and if you cut it off completely after a certain point, you die from withdrawal.

Here's a good ranking of the relative danger levels of various drugs. In fact, it was so good that the guy who published it was forced to resign from his job as chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs in the UK because it didn't jibe with current politics.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/nov/02/david-nutt-dangerous-drug-list [guardian.co.uk]

Re:Heroin? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31823118)

I have to say that's a pretty bad list. For instance, I've made good arguments here that heroin and alcohol are roughly equal in danger. Or at least, that there's no clear winner. Also, LSD being placed above Ecstacy and other stimulants. There's just no sense in that. LSD has never caused a death by overdose, and no neurotoxicity is known. That's not the case for stimulants.

I think I read this paper when it came out. IIRC one major flaw is that they included addiction potential into the quantification of danger. Addiction itself is not dangerous. That would explain why heroin is at the top of the list. I'm still scratching my head about LSD.

In any case, this just illustrates how hard it is to obectively measure danger on a linear scale. The only real killer is ignorance.

Re:Heroin? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31823524)

That would explain why heroin is at the top of the list. I'm still scratching my head about LSD.

Umm... dude... that's my ass you're scratching. I mean, we're all connected and part of the single cosmic organism, sure, but my ass is not your head, no matter how well connected we all are in the rhythmic cosmos. Would you please knock it off for a while?

=8)

Re:Heroin? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822314)

Heroin is pretty fucking toxic. We're not talking Marijuana toxic

1. Define "Marijuana toxic". Be sure to cite scientific articles to back up your statements.

I make my own alcohol.

I'd rather cigarettes and weed be gone too

2. You brew your own alcohol, a substance known to kill thousands of people a year both directly (alcohol poisoning) and indirectly (drunk drivers). Yet you want weed to disappear, a substance which has never had a recorded death directly attributed only to itself without any other factors coming into play?

Very odd.

Re:Heroin? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#31823770)

Not odd at all, if you stop and think about human nature for a moment. What he's saying is, "My drugs aren't as bad as the drugs that I've rejected." Yes, I know that alcohol and tobacco kill more people than several other drugs combined. All the same, I like a little alcohol now and then, and I'm addicted to tobacco. Caffeine isn't even listed, but I'm also addicted to that.

I question the position they've given cocaine, though. They are certainly lumping white powder cocaine together with the rocks that people smoke. If they separated nose candy from rock candy, where would each appear on those charts?

Re:Heroin? (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822396)

This is a different problem than liquor, just like carrying a small rocket launcher is a different problem than carrying a 6 bullet revolver.

Fortunately both are equally protected by the 2nd Amendment, if you're an American.

The question is not whether heroin or whatever is good or bad. The question is the appropriate public policy response to it. In particular, given the certain fact that some people will desire it, and others will meet that desire with supply, are we better off to legalize and regulate the trade and medicalize personal and social problems associated with use the way we do with alcohol; or do something insanely counter-productive like criminalize the supply and use, stigmatize and ostrasize users, and create a hugely costly, unproductive and dangerous narco-security state to combat the criminal gangs the such criminalization will inevitably and predictably produce?

The OP was suggesting for some reason that killing dealers would somehow solve some problem, but it isn't clear how. Shift from medical to criminal focus in the UK in the '70's certainly didn't reduce drug use, and Portugal's recent blanket legalization hasn't brought about the end of the world.

Retributive violence makes stupid people feel good. It's a basic monkey reflex. Fortunately, most of us are no longer quite so much in the grip of our reflexes that we fall prey to them while setting public policy, although clearly we still have a long way to go with regard to rational and effective drug policy, because it is still an area where stupid people promoting ineffective, destructive policies are still holding sway.

There is a lot of money in the narco-security state, which probably explains why stupid people have been so successful in this: they spend a lot of the taxpayer's hard-earned cash to promote their ineffective, destructive policies. But the rest of us are getting a little tired of it, and even more tired of the anti-conservative radicals like Glenn Beck who want to give the cops and the military even more power than they already have to regulate the behaviour of adults.

Re:Heroin? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822596)

Fortunately both are equally protected by the 2nd Amendment, if you're an American.

Not really. A missile launcher would have been considered munitions by the founding fathers.

Re:Heroin? (1)

hduff (570443) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822706)

Heroin is pretty fucking toxic. We're talking a chemical with no benefit, that makes you literally need it all the time to even stay on a normal level once you're hooked;

Heroin is often a better analgesic than morphine especially in the terminally ill in extreme pain. It metabolizes better and is more effective for certain diseases.

And if you are terminally ill, who gives a shit if you become addicted to heroin?

and if you cut it off completely after a certain point, you die from withdrawal.

Nonsense; your ignorance is showing. Ask any recovered heroin addict whether they are dead or not. Apparently, you would be surprised at their answer.

Somebody please mod this dude down.

Re:Heroin? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31823594)

It's not that you raise bad points, because you're spot on in the gist of your post. But:

Ask any recovered heroin addict whether they are dead or not. Apparently, you would be surprised at their answer.

Surely that invokes a bit of selection bias, no? I mean, if he wanted to survey heroin addicts to find out if they died during recovery, surely he'd want to also ask the ones that died, right?

If I wanted to find out if falling sixty stories was likely to cause my death or not, I wouldn't limit myself to asking only people who survived a sixty-story fall. That's all I'm saying.

Re:Heroin? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821970)

My sarcasm detector is on the blink today, so ignore me if you were just being sarcastic.

Let's execute them. Haphazardly selling something seriously deadly for ingestion is akin to poisoning people.

You want the death penalty for brewers, distillers, tavern owners, bartenders, and liquor store owners and their sales clerks? More people die from alcohol overdose than overdose of all other drugs combined. Cigarettes kill almost all their users, too.

And if you want to kill yourself, or engage in risky behavior, how is that any of my business?

Re:Heroin? (0, Troll)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822212)

Perhaps he's a muslim|mormon|other kind of miserable bastard (please specify)?

Re:Heroin? (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 4 years ago | (#31823602)

I don't want the death penalty for them, but I realize that it's a fucking huge problem that brewers, distillers, tavern owners and liquor store owners profit from slowly killing people. It's perverse incentives. If we like free markets (and we do) we need to do something about it, or we'll be using the invisible hand to choke people to death in an exemplary efficient manner.

Alcohol consumption follows a log-normal distribution, it's skewed to the heavily drinking end. If the 20% heaviest drinkers suddenly stopped cold turkey, you could expect 80% of the breweries, distillers, taverns and liquor stores to go as well.

(Another disturbing issue is that the distribution appears not to change very much across times and space. Median consumption and heavy consumption are closely related, so the alcohol industry can't simply compensate by selling more to people who drink little today - all evidence indicates that would cause the heavy drinkers to consume even more.)

If left up the crowd (2, Funny)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821842)

they might fill the drug dealers with asphalt and chase the potholes out of the neighborhood.

Re:If left up the crowd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31822030)

I am intrigued by your ideas. How do I subscribe to your newsletter?

Re:If left up the crowd (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822344)

Both are fine with me. And more amusing than the alternative.

Re:If left up the crowd (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822450)

they might fill the drug dealers with asphalt and chase the potholes out of the neighborhood.

You could use the dead drug dealers to fill in the potholes. But there'll be a fair amount of organic matter present, and as it rots you'll get terrible shrinkage - not to mention the smell.

Try drying them first?

Re:If left up the crowd (1)

big_oaf (560706) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822500)

Try drying them first?

I have nothing of value to contribute to this thread, but I just had to say thank you for making me laugh out loud. Mod parent up!

Re:If left up the crowd (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31823622)

Try drying them first?

But what happens when it rains? They get all wet again, and we're back to square one.

I suggest we mummify them using plasticizing resin. We could force them into the pothole while the resin is setting, then just trim them down to the road surface level once they're hard.

Re:If left up the crowd (2, Informative)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31823608)

The crowd overwhelmingly seems to support drug dealers who sell to adults.

Especially pot... which should be legalized.

But also cocaine (which could be argued either way).

Probably not meth.

my point is that there are drug dealers and there are drug dealers. Depending on their target market (kids vs adults) and their product (pot, cocaine, heroin, hash, crystal meth, crank, crack). Your local drug dealer could be a dangerously crazy type or it could be someone's nice grandmother.

Cigarettes and alchohol are also drugs.. and they are legal.

How is this news? Oh, its on the web!!! (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821856)

The city is never any further than an email or phone call away. Where do you live that your city doesn't have phone or an Internet presence?

3rd party aggregation of complaints (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31821916)

If you email or call the city, it's between you and the city.

If you use this site, it's among you, the city, and everyone else using the city. So whereas now the city would just ignore you cause they don't give a shit (like where I live), this might just provide sufficient public shame to get something accomplished.

I'm not naive enough to assume the magic of the intertubes will fix everything, but as ideas go, this isn't a bad one and has some potential as a responsiveness check on municipal government.

Re:3rd party aggregation of complaints (2, Insightful)

alphax45 (675119) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821972)

Sad that people have to be publicly shamed into doing their job - but it does work!

Re:3rd party aggregation of complaints (3, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822076)

Sad that people have to be publicly shamed into doing their job - but it does work!

"Shame" or not, I don't think its surprising that people are more likely to do the job that they are being paid to do if their performance (or lack thereof) is more visible to the people that are paying them to do it.

Re:3rd party aggregation of complaints (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31822204)

It might not necessarily be shaming people into doing their job so much as providing more feedback for prioritization. The pothole on 5th Avenue is bugging lots of people who now have a simple way to complain about it, so it gets fixed; whereas now, the city might use some (possibly random) method of prioritizing repairs that is still doing something but might be less immediately useful to the population.

Government can work, and works best when the citizens have insight into its activities and the sense that they're able to do something concrete; this helps.

Re:3rd party aggregation of complaints (2, Insightful)

Miseph (979059) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822612)

"the city might use some (possibly random) method of prioritizing repairs that is still doing something but might be less immediately useful to the population."

Random? You mean like "everybody hand me a random amount of money, and whoever hands me the most gets their problem fixed"? Or random like "I will randomly prioritize these issues according to how close I am with somebody directly affected by it"? Those seem to be the two most popular "random selection" methods I've seen.

Re:3rd party aggregation of complaints (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822554)

It isn't just shame. Convenience counts.

A call or email, even a polite one with grammar and everything, is largely unstructured information. A human has to interpret it, parse the actual data out of it, and pass it on to the right person. If they have to do that manually, they'll fuck up some percentage of the time, even if they actually care about what they are doing, and more often if they don't(y'know the game "Telephone"?)

If, on the other hand, through the use of web technologies(and, as time goes on, cell GPS and geolocated cameras and similar toys) you can make it much easier, less error prone, faster, and less drain on human effort(secretaries don't earn serious cash, but they aren't free) to do the right thing.

A lot of public works departments(along with their various private sector equivalents, telco/cable/electrical repair types) have been moving, at various speeds, towards fairly serious IT integrated response systems for some years. GIS, GPS, the works. The dispatch center has a big electronic map, with the locations of work crews and equipment on it(some equipment can even give updates about its status, condition, preventative service times, etc.) and incidents that need attention. They can then easily, and in some cases algorithmically, allocate the best available crews and hardware to the problems that crop up, according to type and severity.

For security/spoofing/spamming reasons, I suspect that they wouldn't want to give direct web facing access to such a system; but if you had a website that allowed cell users to trivially upload a picture/GPS fix/problem description, then crunched it into a format that could be pulled in to a GIS dispatch system, you would make efficient response much easier, and less subject to error.

It's basically the difference between proper SNMP monitoring and depending on having users call the IT office and say "the so and so is down!!!!". The latter isn't completely useless; but, for systems of any significant complexity, isn't nearly as efficient as one would like. The automated way takes some discipline and setup; but it is much more efficient.

Re:3rd party aggregation of complaints (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31822998)

Interesting and insightful. There goes your anarcho-capitalist teabagger street-cred.

Re:3rd party aggregation of complaints (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31823924)

As someone who works for a city, this is a pain in the arse. We already have a hotline for potholes and they get fixed quick. This has just created another layer of work for city employees who already have more than enough on their plates after years and years of downsizing. Good motives behind it, but it's a waste of everyone's time.

Re:3rd party aggregation of complaints (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31824208)

That's what we have town council meetings, local newspapers (6 of them at last count - 3 free weeklies and 3 dailies), and radio and TV stations for. There's no need for an "aggregator", and it only takes a few bucks to set up a "$MAYOR_SO_AND_SO_SUCKS.COM" site that will be MUCH more effective.

Re:How is this news? Oh, its on the web!!! (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821990)

Where do you live that allows your neighbourhood to have a 50 person conference call with a city official or an email service that allows you to check up on the status of an individual request without pestering a single official?

Your response is akin to "Social Networking? Bah! We've had email and phones for ages!"

Re:How is this news? Oh, its on the web!!! (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822584)

The London Borough of Barnet, which partnered with FixMyStreet.com [fixmystreet.com] to provide exactly what this US website has done, but for the UK.

(FixMyStreet.com provide the service for the whole UK, Barnet display a subsection of it under barnet.FixMyStreet.com)

Re:How is this news? Oh, its on the web!!! (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31824258)

Where do you live that allows your neighbourhood to have a 50 person conference call with a city official

Guess what? We've had that for decades BEFORE the Internet - it's called the monthly town council meeting. Complete with media coverage. Much more effective than yet another web site. They know that if one person shows up, there are probably 100 more who are p***ed off, and that the one showing up may very well end up running against them next election ,,,

THAT is how you get things done, from changing zoning or speed limits to noise abatement. Get off your lard-arses and get involved.

Re:How is this news? Oh, its on the web!!! (2, Insightful)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822000)

After deciding that it was hopeless dealing with my neighbor, I went to call city hall. I left something like five different messages with the department that I presumed was responsible. At some point, while waiting on hold and getting different answers about what I could do,...

And what was touched on is that it's public

After that, make sure someone is receiving an alert. If you go to your neighborhood or city, you can click the "Who's Watching" tab and you can see if your mayor or your public works department is already receiving alerts. And if not, you can sign them up. The last step is just reporting issues.

NPR reported on this about a month ago.

It's pretty embarrassing to the bureaucrats when their incompetence is publicly visible.

Re:How is this news? Oh, its on the web!!! (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822124)

And should you copy the lat/lon by hand off your GPS into your email address? Or be forced to talk to someone and hope they record everything properly. This is news because it shows that if you make something dramatically cheaper, faster, easier, and more accurate by using new technology it can redefine the community-government relationship. It brings us closer to Democracy.

Re:How is this news? Oh, its on the web!!! (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31824330)

There's nothing easier than phoning or sending an email to city hall saying "there's a loose sewer cover / burned out street lights / whatever". They generally send someone to take care of it within 24 hours.

Then again, we have a VERY good mayor and a very effective town council. TRY to find a pothole - the mayor has a contest every year, and he offers to pay $10 to each person who reports one - out of his own pocket. He never has to pay, because he keeps on top of things.

I compare that to the surrounding cities, with their spring craters, and I don't complain.

Good service has nothing to do with the technology, and everything to do with the people involved. If you've got crappy people, a web site won't make the difference - running against them next election might.

Re:How is this news? Oh, its on the web!!! (1)

irreverant (1544263) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822324)

Umm... Pennsylvania?!.... where the Amish live? They have neither a phone or 'what's the internet?'

Re:How is this news? Oh, its on the web!!! (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31824372)

Umm... Pennsylvania?!.... where the Amish live? They have neither a phone or 'what's the internet?'

Then a web site won't help them, and they'll fix it themselves anyways, and tell you to get off their lawn

Re:How is this news? Oh, its on the web!!! (4, Informative)

caramelcarrot (778148) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822478)

It sounds very like http://www.fixmystreet.com/ [fixmystreet.com] by the wonderful mySociety which has been running in the UK for a while now, and working quite well, all for free. It's effective because it streamlines the often awful web reporting mechanism that city councils have into a single system that handles the reporting and the public presence of the report that other people can see (to see how effective the council is).

Hehe (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31821874)

We had something similar in the past. It was called a phone number. It wasn't hard to find.

Seriously, if you only care enough that you can't be bothered more than to twitter your complaints, then FUCK YOU AND FUCK YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD.

Old News... (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821918)

This was reported [govtech.com] back in Dec of '09 with an iPhone App. There's even an wiki [open311.org] dedicated to Open311. In the US the app was created by CitySourced [citysourced.com] .

Tech help (1)

pablodiazgutierrez (756813) | more than 4 years ago | (#31821944)

I guess most users heard about them, but there are a few iPhone/iPad apps that help in reporting these issues, also taking advantage of the devices' geolocation.

A Sample Claim (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31822008)

"That damn kid from next door ruined my flowers again. Let's see how that Mitchell boy likes running throw claymores!"

Re:A Sample Claim (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31823682)

"That damn kid from next door ruined my flowers again. Let's see how that Mitchell boy likes running throw claymores!"

I love running and throwing claymores! I don't even mind if they're the supersized Scots sword instead of the explodey kind!

Thanks old man!

-Mitchell

I don't care WHAT you call it. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31822086)

It's still government and it's still the source of everything that is wrong with this country.

Educate yourself. [objectivistcenter.org]

Re:I don't care WHAT you call it. (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822168)

"Government" is an abstract idea, run by people. And who gives birth to those people? Us. Who elects those people? Us.

Government isn't the problem. The people who run it and the people who put them there are the problem.

Re:I don't care WHAT you call it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31822216)

You just gave me a great idea for a new game show: "Moonbat or Wingnut?"

Re:I don't care WHAT you call it. (5, Insightful)

Killer Orca (1373645) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822240)

It's still government and it's still the source of everything that is wrong with this country.

I've heard tales of a mythical land called Somalia whee men are free to do as they please. Wait it is real, and it isn't a nice place to visit.

Re:I don't care WHAT you call it. (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822426)

I think you'll find that in Somalia, you're not as free to do as you please as you think. Somalia is ruled by warlords, which is just another form of government.

Re:I don't care WHAT you call it. (5, Insightful)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822564)

It's like if there's an absence of a governmental power the most powerful will become the government...

And the powerful didn't get to be powerful by being Mr. Niceguy.

Re:I don't care WHAT you call it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31822592)

According to that reasoning, government necessarily oppresses the citizenry. Fine (I don't agree, but it doesn't really matter here).

I'd rather have my oppression be at least nominally influenced by my will, than to have it be entirely based around who's got the best odds of killing kill whom. It's unrealistic to think that eliminating government eliminates 3rd party coercion of free people. It just distributes the opportunity to oppress people more widely, not reduce the total amount of oppression.

Re:I don't care WHAT you call it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31822600)

Don't worry, the invisible hand of the market will take care of them, better than any central government ever could.

Re:I don't care WHAT you call it. (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822608)

I think you'll find that in Somalia, you're not as free to do as you please as you think. Somalia is ruled by warlords, which is just another form of government.

Yes, when people that aren't constrained by an effective de jure government, those with more personal power set themselves up as a de facto government over whatever domain they can establish.

I think that was rather the point GP was making in response to the argument that the government is the source of everything wrong with the country -- that, in the absence of real government, what you get is much worse, even from a perspective of practical freedom.

Re:I don't care WHAT you call it. (1)

Eightbitgnosis (1571875) | more than 4 years ago | (#31823260)

I love this logic,

People use corperations to contain fiscal liability, but you can just as easily contain moral liability in government.

"It's not me who's not contributing and doing awful things! It's just the government of which I am a part"

Re:I don't care WHAT you call it. (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822688)

Reductio ad absurdum (Latin: "reduction to the absurd") is a form of argument in which a proposition is disproven by following its implications to a logical but absurd consequence.

Re:I don't care WHAT you call it. (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822914)

Yeah well, if we go around listening to what the Romans had to say on logic pretty soon we'll end up with gladiators killing Christians in an arena.

Re:I don't care WHAT you call it. (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#31823178)

Uh...and that would be a bad thing how, exactly?

Re:I don't care WHAT you call it. (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31823826)

Reductio ad absurdum (Latin: "reduction to the absurd") is a form of argument in which a proposition is disproven by following its implications to a logical but absurd consequence.

True... but use of fallacious arguments does not mean that the proposition is false...

Re:I don't care WHAT you call it. (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31823708)

It's still government and it's still the source of everything that is wrong with this country.

I've heard tales of a mythical land called Somalia whee men are free to do as they please. Wait it is real, and it isn't a nice place to visit.

Meanwhile, outside the Land Of False Dichotomies...

The biggest problem that neighborhoods have ... (2, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822108)

... are probably their own local governments.

"Click here to have your corrupt mayor tarred and feathered, and ridden out of town on a rail."

. . . or . . .

"Click here to endorse a public works program, which nobody wants, because nobody needs . . . Monorail!"

Re:The biggest problem that neighborhoods have ... (1)

coaxial (28297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822476)

It's a real shame they don't live in a democracy.

Oh snap! They do!

Re:The biggest problem that neighborhoods have ... (2, Interesting)

izomiac (815208) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822496)

"Click here to have your corrupt mayor tarred and feathered, and ridden out of town on a rail."

IMHO, governments would improve greatly if citizens could vote to do that to representatives that fail to serve their constituent's interests. Just give people a choice of "Yay", "Nay", or abstain (i.e. for the non-voters), and ensure there's no way to delay the tarring/feathering or force a re-vote. I don't think we'd see too many more secrete copyright treaties, or politicians being bought by corporate interests.

Modern technology allows us to effectively live in a true democracy. Of course, this isn't desirable since the average person has no clue what the government ought to be doing, so a republic is still the better option. What we need now is a way to ensure that our representatives are actually acting on our behalf rather than their own. We can easily monitor most political actions, but we lack the ability to do anything about them.

Re:The biggest problem that neighborhoods have ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31822922)

we lack the ability to do anything about them.

Well, apart from, you know, voting or whatever.

Re:The biggest problem that neighborhoods have ... (1)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 4 years ago | (#31823578)

Au contraire... What we need is to improve education so the average person has a lot of clues of what the government ought to be doing. And then in the elections they wouldn't vote whoever has the better publicist or promises the best snake oil. How do you "ensure that our representatives are actually actin on our behalf rather than their own" instead? Without education, the "way to ensure..." would be for the politics the same that elections (wait! the elections already are one of those "way to ensure...").

Awwhhh... (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822166)

But I *liked* the heroin and potholes.

Re:Awwhhh... (1)

Deosyne (92713) | more than 4 years ago | (#31823110)

And now you have a means of finding as much of both as you can stand.

Re:Awwhhh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31823856)

But I *like* the idea of tarring and feathering Mumbles, and running him down Providence stuck to the ass end of the T!

crowdsourcing? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822184)

Was crowdsourcing last year's fad, or the year before's?

Tucson... (3, Funny)

irreverant (1544263) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822210)

I reside in Tucson, and in south-tucson, and ironically, it being the drug portal; you know with all the mexican cartels trying to lay claim to this gateway, the number one thing i found my fellow tucsonans complaining about, more important than drugs: is our Potholes, i guess the only pot they care about is the one they drive over.

I call bullshit 2.0 (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822376)

Usually, Gov 2.0 deals mainly with outward transparency of government to the citizens.

I thought it was a combination of a boondoggle, a palliacebo[1] and an immensely cynical publicity stunt. My bad.

[1] yes there is, as of now.

Sounds like a good system (4, Interesting)

dave562 (969951) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822414)

The more civic functions that we are able to move online, the better. I live in Long Beach, CA and the city has a graffiti hotline. The one time I used it, the graffiti that I reported was cleaned up less than 24 hours later. The system involves having to leave a voice mail, and the recording time is way too short. It would be much easier to be able to upload digital pictures, or even click the relative location on a map and type in a short description. It would make dispatching the tickets easier too on the city's end.

I'm sure that there will be some who decry the big brother potential of the system. They will worry about nosey neighbors and the spectre of authoritarianism intruding into their lives. I wonder how many of those people actually live in neighborhoods that are right on the border between "nice" and "not so nice". In those neighborhoods, community activism and participation are key in reversing the slide toward the "not so nice" end of the spectrum. All it takes for a neighborhood to decay is for the residents to remain apathetic for long enough. Soon enough all of the "little" things start to add up.

Different plan (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822438)

I have a completely different plan to crowdsource the DPW.

"Welcome, welcome to the intersection of Cedar and Ash streets. Thank you all for responding to my tweet about giving away a new Apple iPad. There is of course a little catch, before the giveaway." (... Hands out the shovels ...)

The weird part is, that when you account for full lifetime pensions after 20 years, having three guys watch one guy dig, and govt wages far higher than private wages, its probably cheaper to give away Apple products than to pay DPW to do it for you...

Re:Different plan (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822790)

The weird part is, that when you account for full lifetime pensions after 20 years, having three guys watch one guy dig, and govt wages far higher than private wages, its probably cheaper to give away Apple products than to pay DPW to do it for you...

Cities are starting to outsource things. Where I live, the city outsourced graffiti removal to a sub-contractor. The response time is great and because there is competition in the market, it encourages the contractor to do a good job. It is only a matter of time before pot hole fillers and all the rest are outsourced as well. When I was a kid, the city used to handle the sewers. Now they bring in contractors when it is time to tear up the street and replace broken pipes. I think it's a good thing. The city doesn't have to eat the maintenance on all of the heavy equipment, and doesn't have to keep specialized operators who drive the equipment on the payroll.

In the UK... (2, Informative)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822466)

We have a similar thing in the UK, called Fix My Street [fixmystreet.com] . I used it once. I got a form email after a couple of days, followed promptly by nothing at all. They finally got around to fixing the problem I reported after a few months, but never bothered to reply to say so. Zero human communication. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's all very well setting something like this up, but the government has to be committed to the project for it to work. Setting up a website is only the small part, getting them to actually follow up is another matter. It's all too easy for a politician to pay lip service to ideas like this, but fail to adequately support the effort after the headlines have been made.

Re:In the UK... (2, Interesting)

corbettw (214229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822890)

That's because you filled out a form 11-b, when you should have filled out an 11/b. It's your own fault for not taking more interest in your local government.

Great News! (1)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 4 years ago | (#31822586)

Cynical Sam says "Oh this is truly great news. Grandma will be able to complain 24/7! Now if we can just get this for Home Owners Associations."

Re:Great News! (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31823640)

Every time the volume of complaints from whiny old people with too much time on their hands, change the interface to rely on an even more esoteric Web(N+1).0 fad.

Too many cranky phone calls?

Switch to email.

Emails getting overwhelming?

Web interface time.

Too many busybodies with WebTV>

Aggressive adoption of pre-standard HTML5 features, that'll keep 'em out.

Younger family members set them up with Chrome?

If your report isn't on twitter, we didn't hear it.

Mixed Opinion (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31822660)

As far as the potholes, graffiti, flooding and other similar reporting options go. Bravo, its a great way of bringing everyday problems to the attention of those who are responsible for fixing them, or at least showing that they exist and where. However.... I'm a little more dubious as to the morality of the other possible options, "Homeless Encampment?, Homeless Nuisance?" are some of the ones visible right on the example screenshots of the Citysourced.com website. I'm guessing "Drug Dealer, Meth Lab, Drug House, ect" are somewhere down the list. This for me brings up too many images of the East German Secret police and their encouragement of citizens to report on other citizens. In a time of (real) war I would have to wonder whether "dissident", "sympathizer" or "pacifist" would be on that list. All in all, I think such a system should focus on the physical problems of a city, and leave the criminal (or at least issues involving humans) ones to 911.

Portland (2, Informative)

mojatt (704902) | more than 4 years ago | (#31823104)

Portland has been doing such a thing for a few months now through an iPhone app appropriately named "City of Portland Citizen Reports". Allows users to upload photos with descriptions and tag them with GPS coordinates. The description pulled from the iTunes page:

Citizen Reports is a direct result of Mayor Adams and the City of Portland’s call for more open data and interactions with the citizens of Portland. Citizen Reports is used by citizens to report and request service calls to city assets and infrastructure, including issues with parks, pot holes, traffic lights, street lights, catch basins, and graffiti. Additional city assets and service request types will be added over time.

Using an iPhone, citizens can access this easy-to-use interface to the City of Portland’s issue reporting infrastructure. Citizens select the type of issue to report, take a photo (or upload an existing one), geo-locate the issue via GPS or interactive map, add comments, and send their report directly to the responsible bureau for resolution. Citizens can also view issues they have previously submitted and check the status or resolution of the issue.

Citizen Reports is a small but important step in allowing citizens to participate in expediting the City of Portland's awareness and resolution of various issues. Citizen Reports is available for free within the Apple App Store.

Horrible idea... (1)

smurphmeister (1132881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31823122)

There was also one case of an arrest. The New Haven Police Department attributed initial reports on SeeClickFix to a sting operation that led to an arrest of two drug dealers selling heroin in front of a grammar school

Surely it's better for the kids to be able to get their heroin from the safety of their school steps than to make them travel to a seedier part of town, isn't it?

Crowdwhatnow? (1)

Anonymice (1400397) | more than 4 years ago | (#31823220)

I just had a rather surreal picture of a moshpit full of Civil Servants...

Re:Crowdwhatnow? (0, Redundant)

Eightbitgnosis (1571875) | more than 4 years ago | (#31823288)

Y'all bitches ain't ready fo' my FISCAL POLI-SAAAAAAAYYYY!

Uh oh (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31823662)

Usually, Gov 2.0 deals mainly with outward transparency of government to the citizens.

Posts from a different, less corrupt universe are leaking through again. I thought they patched that?

a nightmare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31824100)

Now the site sports mainly pot-hole and idling vehicle reports. Reminds me of tech support calls at an ISP being inundated by reports of pings by noobs watching their new firewall.

But I fear systems that link citizen informants into the power of government. On the one hand we'll have the gated community syndrome, with busybodies working 24/7 to enforce all the rules. On the other, the government will find more and more value in leveraging citizens to obtain policy goals.

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