SeeClickFix Helping NJ Hyperlocals

Hi there, SeeClickFix folks. My name is Colleen Curry, and I run, a hyperlocal news website in New Jersey and one of Gannett's first hyperlocal sites in the country. We've been using SeeClickFix on our site for a few months now, and it has helped engage our readers, generate stories, and impel action in our local community. Ben asked me to share a few of these highlights with you.

- SeeClickFix became a major player for us when a near-fatal car accident at a troublesome intersection sparked a discussion about road safety improvements. The raucous discussion then moved over to our SeeClickFix map, where users highlighted the intersection's danger and questioned the local government's inaction.

This generated two follow-up stories for us where we helped bridge the discussion between our blog, the SeeClickFix map, and the local government officials. We identified the actual danger of the intersection--in numbers--and relayed explanations and timetables from the governments to the people.

Soon after our posts, the print paper picked up the story and ran a longer piece about the intersection's history. In response, the county and town governments decided to hold an open meeting to present plans for improvements to the public. We were able to Close the ticket on the map because the government had acknowledged and begun to solve the local problem.

In all, the intersection generated about 6 stories for us, largely based on readers directing our attention to what mattered to them.

- Also this fall, I did a series of in-depth multimedia stories about a local lake that was pretty well ignored by the community-- I thought no one knew/cared about it. Within a couple of days of posting the first story, there were multiple entries and votes on the Map about cleaning and dredging the lake. I had no idea people in the community cared about environmental issues like this one, and they didn't comment on my stories to tell me- they used the map. We haven't had direct public action yet, but the issue is certainly being discussed.

- My favorite issue reported on the Map so far has been "Bad Reporting," which was located at our own Press building. The person who raised the issue said we didn't offer enough coverage of local events, and a second person replied that we--the press--couldn't possibly cover everything, hence the need for citizen journalism. It was a conversation I never expected to see on a See Click Fix Map, but it was awesome.

- Most recently, I noticed we had a few complaints about a lack of sidewalks on a major highway with bus stops all along the route. I went out and took some pictures of the situation, posted them, and asked readers if they agreed with the complaints and wanted me to do some investigative work about it. They did, and I ended up writing two or three stories about the Department of Transportation's response to the situation. Soon after, two pedestrians were killed along the same route at the bus stops; the articles, discussion, and comments to the map will continue to track this story as a matter of public record.

- Finally, our police chief has recently started reading the map and encouraging our readers to post any kinds of crime tips directly to it. We have a meeting set up so I can help him understand how to use the open tickets and respond directly to readers. This way, we can be a direct intermediary from the public to the government, and vice versa.

The map has been an awesome tool for communication on our site. Thanks to Ben & the SCF team for all the hard work!