Tuesday, September 15, 2009

On 311, YinzCam and CitySourced

The subtitle of this post would have to be: Is going local going to cost the city of Pittsburgh?

One of the highlights so far of TechCrunch 50 (one of the leading conferences on technology start-ups) is a company call CitySourced. CitySourced has posted the admin demo for their product on their website and it is VERY impressive. I highly recommend if you have an interest in city government or software that you go take a look. If you ignored my advice, the summary (in CitySourced words) is this:
CitySourced is a real time mobile civic engagement tool. CitySourced provides a free, simple, and intuitive tool empowering citizens to identify civil issues (potholes, graffiti, trash, snow removal, etc.) and report them to city hall for quick resolution; an opportunity for government to use technology to save money and improve accountability to those they govern; and a positive, collaborative platform for real action. Our platform is called CitySourced, as it empowers everyday citizens to use their smart phones to make their cities a better place. CitySourced is powered by FreedomSpeaks, the leader in interactive civic engagement.
Sounds pretty nifty right? So why isn't Pittsburgh doing anything with it? To be fair, one of the reasons Pittsburgh hasn't jumped on this is that even CitySourced will admit that its not quite ready yet (they only have an iPhone App and they're still proving out their pilot with San Jose). This reason doesn't scare me at all, in fact I applaud Howard Stern (Pittsburgh's CIO), the administration and Bill Peduto (a self proclaimed evangalist for Pittsburgh and technology) for avoiding jumping too fast. I've worked in technology long enough to know that the first guy to take the plunge is often the guy who finds out the pool is pretty shallow.

It's the other reason that Pittsburgh isn't (and might not) dive in that concerns me. That's that Pittsburgh is already partnered with a CMU project called YinzCam to perform a similar function. The problem is, this takes a LOT of modification of YinzCam to make it suit this purpose (YinzCam is a very innovative tool that's primary purpose is a sort of "journalism by mob" approach to sports replays). Here's hoping that the City of Pittsburgh isn't so married to the concept of a local approach that they miss an opportunity with CitySourced. Some times the right answers are at CMU and lets hope Californians come here when they are. Some times the answers are in California, and lets go there when they are. That's how we become a technology leader.

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1 comment:

kurtyD said...

Thanks for the insightful post Jon! We'd love to find ways to help and support you. Hit me up kurt.daradics at freedomspeaks dot com or @citysourced