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The virtual neighborhood watch gets investment from Omidyar and OATV
One of the understated beauties of the Web is that it shifts the fundamental paradigms of the day, like the long-held belief that if you have a problem in your local community, you write your local congressman/woman, or the mayor, or the governor, or the school district, etc., etc. But how about writing to the other people in your community?
That was the goal of virtual neighborhood watch SeeClickFix, which is the subject of a Tuesday announcement by Omidyar Network and O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, who, together, have invested $1.3 million into the startup.
Version one of SeeClickFix launched three years ago to allow any individual report a problem or concern in his or her local community. The founders, who live in New Haven, Connecticut, initially created the site to get their own local community more involved in issues that needed to be addressed, and the site gradually expanded across the country to become a virtual message board for a community of any size to call attention to local issues.
It’s as simple as typing in your hometown and looking up reports, or creating a report of your own. This level of simplicity and transparency, the founders believe, will encourage individuals to become more involved in their communities, and will become even more so when they see the results that their own reports produce. The site, which has been translated into 11 languages, boasts a 40% fix rate and recently celebrated its 50,000th reported issue.
SeeClickFix is hosted on more than 500 local news sites, including SFGate, Boston.com, Philly.com, The Washington Post, and Gannett. The company plans to use the new funds to hire mobile and rails engineers, as well as new government and media partners relations managers.
This marks Omidyar’s first for-profit investment in its Government Transparency investment area.
"Omidyar Network is deeply committed to furthering the use of technology platforms to engage citizens on issues of importance to them," commented Stacy Donohue, director of investments at Omidyar Network, in a prepared statement. "The SeeClickFix team has created a powerful platform that can have significant, tangible social impact. They've created a scalable, low-cost way to turn citizen frustration into participation and engagement while strengthening community bonds."
This is OATV’s first investment in a Gov 2.0 initiative. "Now is the time for government to reinvent itself, to take the old idea of government 'for the people, by the people and of the people' to a new level,” said Tim O’Reilly, CEO and founder of O’Reilly Media, in a statement. O’Reilly Media, a general partner of OATV, co-hosts the Gov 2.0 summit with UBM TechWeb, which gathers entrepreneurs and innovators, as well as citizens and leaders in government to flesh out the idea of building “government as a platform.”
SeeClickFix launched an updated version in August to introduce new features, including a new dashboard, a universal API plug-in, and new widgets. The service is available for free and can be upgraded to a paid pro service.
image source: seeclickfix.com
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