When Fast Company magazine developed a feature article entitled “United States of Innovation” for its most recent issue, they selected one business in each state to highlight. Connecticut’s representative was SeeClickFix, a New Haven-based business that began a decade ago with a basic premise and has expanded steadily since. As Fast Company described it: “A Help Desk for Citizens – New Haven resident Ben Berkowitz created the SeeClickFix app to allow locals to quickly report non-emergency issues (broken meters and streetlights, potholes, and even excessive noise from ice-cream trucks). Officials can track, manage and reply within the app. It has since expanded to some 300 municipalities across the country.”
There have been a total of more than 3 million “issues fixed” according to the SeeClickFix website, in communities including Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Petersburg, Detroit, Oakland, Albany, Albuquerque, Washington, D.C. Of particular interest this during the past two weeks - SeeClickFix in numerous Florida communities, and in Houston.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the efforts with Houston instantly intensified. Berkowitz said SeeClickFix has worked with the city of Houston and several of its neighboring suburbs since 2009, handling an estimated 30,000 residents. Those numbers will likely jump when the totals for 2017 are tallied. Berkowitz told CTNewsJunkie that will be especially true in the coming weeks as operations shift from emergency calls handled by police and other emergency personnel to calls that are SeeClickFix specialties, such as power outages, downed trees and other types of “more routine” assistance.
In Florida, St. Petersburg is among the 10 communities with SeeClickFix in operation, and the site is filled with reports of downed trees, storm debris, broken water mains, non-working street lights, and other hazards, with many accompanied by photos illustrating the danger or dilemma. Other communities include Pinellas County (which includes Clearwater), Seminole, Gainsville, and Venice, which signed on a year ago.
The company’s website continues to proudly boast “Made in New Haven” and Berkowitz’ company profile explains “The inspiration for SeeClickFix came from a desire to improve his own community with his neighbors and his government.”
Even before the hurricane in Houston this year, the company's growth has continued, with the first city in Kentucky signing on recently, and communities in Georgia and Michigan also added. A workshop, with municipal attendees from more than 80 communities, was held in Detroit. Next, a SeeClickFix User Summit is scheduled for September 13 & 14 in New Haven.
Fast Company summed up “50 projects that are really making America great again” noting that “Change doesn’t have to happen from the top down” as the publication highlights “some of the most promising projects, initiatives, and companies that are springing up in every state of the union. Together, they present a portrait of the country today—its concerns and responses, and its enduring capacity for progress.”