Many people are discouraged about the level of political discourse in the United States, in part because of the usual and tired "Right vs. Left" arguments that are unfolding in the Presidential campaign currently going on. The frustration about the lack of innovative thinking in politics is understandable, but in a recent Wall Street Journal editorial, Steven Johnson contends that there are reasons to be optimistic about American political culture, and cites SeeClickFix as evidence.
He writes, "But seeing the world through these easy oppositions blinds us to the growing prominence of a group of new organizations: fluid, collaborative networks working outside both the marketplace and the state to improve the world in inventive ways. Inspired in many cases by the decentralization of the Internet, the movement uses the peer network as its organizing principle, with no single individual or group 'in charge.'"
And continues, "Consider the maps released earlier this month by the New Haven, Conn., organization SeeClickFix. Zooming in on a city neighborhood, you will see clusters of color hovering over certain blocks. Those bands indicate urban problems that ordinary citizens have reported using the SeeClickFix app: gaping potholes, abandoned cars, graffiti. So far, city governments have used the data to address more than 125,000 cases in neighborhoods across the U.S."
It's very satisfying to be recognized in this way. SeeClickFix is intended to facilitate pragmatic solutions to everyday concerns, but also to be a disruptive force that changes the way government is conducted. These two objectives go hand in hand, and its important not to lose sight of either.
In the editorial, Johnson is referencing our new geographies feature that was launched in a recent round new features, but we see more examples of this every day. For example, our hometown of New Haven is aggressively innovating in the way it delivers city services by leveraging SeeClickFix. WBTV in Charlotte, a SeeClickFix media partner, brought attention to a drain that had long been broken, which prompted the city to resolve the problem.
As Steven Johnson notes, if you only read the headlines, you're probably going to be discouraged about politics in America. The local conversations that SeeClickFix is facilitating to enable citizens to improve their neighborhoods demonstrate that there is more to the story, and provide reasons to be optimistic after all.