According to a recent article in Governing magazine, citizen volunteers are starting to perform jobs once handled by government (“Full-Service Government Comes to an End,” by Paul W. Taylor). Mobile technology enables this shift by enabling citizens to find out quickly about easy ways to help in their own neighborhoods. People help each other more, and the city has to send out fewer trucks for minor jobs.
The City of Boston has implemented Citizens Connect, a tool that lets citizens report problems and see other citizens’ reports using their mobile devices. Using Citizens Connect, Tech Networks CEO Susan Labandibar took care of a municipal issue in her South Boston neighborhood and became one of the examples in the Governing article.
As reported in the article, Susan was browsing Citizens Connect on a cold winter night when she saw this message: “Possum in my trash can. Can’t tell if it’s dead. Barrel in back of 168 W. 9th. How do I get this removed?” Susan saw that the site was a short distance from her home. She walked over, turned the trash can on its side, resolved the ticket and tweeted “Good night, sweet possum.”
Mobile devices are increasing efficiency and bringing people together. They improve our lives—and those of opossums—in unexpected ways.