Thursday, August 09, 2007

Instant public service project (just add water)

Jeff Jarvis has a great suggestion over at his blog BuzzMachine: a plan to enlist your audience in identifying and cataloging infrastructure problems in the area.

A taste:

Put up a Google map (with Platial on top) and town and neighborhood wikis and ask them to pinpoint every failure of infrastructure — or feared failure — they see: streets that flood every time it rains, bridges that look just too damned rusty, potholes, pipes that burst, streets that don’t get plowed, streetlights that don’t work, signs that are missing. . . . Ask them for dates and other specifics and for pictures and video. Urge them to blog their stories of frustration and bureaucracy.

Use your promotional power and influence to mobilize your public.

Then do what you do best: add journalism.
Who wants to be first?

UPDATE: As often happens, the Merced Sun-Star is way ahead of me on this. Have a look at what they're doing here.


  1. if you want, you can have it...

    ( is British and said they had no plans for world domination)

  2. um, when I try to follow the Merced Sun-Star "tiplist" link it redirects to their home page, and when from there I "Search Merced!" for "tiplist" it
    a) brings up nothing and
    b) asks if I really meant to search for...


    I didn't.

  3. Big chuckle, Anna. I'm sure Merced appreciates your usability testing.

    Suggestion for Merced, and others: Acknowledge that the people at have begun a conversation about the issue, and help them by adding the media attention they think is lacking. Seek their advice and help.

    Add pointers to our online work on their forums, or partner with them in building maps.

  4. (the redirection really is a PITA though - I get to see the tiplist page for about a quarter of a second before being shepherded back to the home page. Seems cranky readers running NoScript aren't their target audience...)