Citizens as Sensors for the City

[youtube] A few times a year, I receive a publication called ArcUser: The Magazine for Esri Software Users.  While I do use GIS fairly frequently for class projects, I don’t usually spend too much time reading this magazine.  Often, it’s full of technical details geared more toward web and software developers than to planners.

That’s why this issue I was happy to stumble upon one article highlighting a service called CitySourced for smartphones.  CitySourced is similar to SeeClickFix, which we’ve written about before.  In fact, it’s so similar I can’t quickly discern the difference (anyone?).  I suspect SeeClickFix uses an open source GIS, while CitySource uses Esri’s GIS solution. Nonetheless, CitySourced provides an interface between citizens, which it views as sensors for the city, and city government and management.  When there’s an issue on the street like graffiti or a pothole, citizens can snap a photo with their smartphone, categorize the problem using a drop-down menu, and then submit the problem, which is fed directly in to the city’s work order queue.

CitySourced has not only been useful for this type of interaction, but also for compliance management on university campuses.  The University of California at Davis employs the service to document its compliance with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s and California State Water Board’s regulations.  Campus maintenance crews can photograph and submit real-time examples of policy implementation.  ArcUser reports this could save the university up to $27,500 in fines every day.

If anyone out there has used both CitySourced and SeeClickFix, I’d love to hear your comparison.  Share with us in the comments section below.

­-Terra Curtis