The Complaint Box in Your Home

roadrepairsSpringwise reports on Neighborhood Fix-It, a UK Web site that allows residents throughout the country to report local problems that need action. 

 After entering a postcode or location, users are presented with a map of the area. They can view issues that have already been reported, or add something they’ve just spotted, simply by clicking on the map. The site is free to use and run by mySociety, a charity that also created civic-action websites like TheyWorkForYou.com and PledgeBank.com. In a quiet beta test prior to Neighbourhood Fix-It’s launch, several hundred problems were reported. Local councils fixed paving slabs, got rid of redundant estate agent signs, filled pot holes and removed graffiti.

It’s crowdsourcing for government and something that you would think local governments would want to encourage.  But beyond local governments, what about newspapers?  As far as I’m concerned, whenever I hear the word “local” used to describe a Web site or service, it screams “newspapers.”  This is no different.  While readers devour that hyperlocal section of their newspaper’s Web site, why not allow them to submit items for action?  Local governments are happy because they have an efficient way to learn about issues, readers have an efficient way to report them, and newspapers have another way to bring readers to their site.  This is just another form of crowdsourced local information that newspapers should own, from traffic conditions, to restaurant reviews, to sports scores.

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