Although, to be fair, the app launched a while ago and is actually part of the SeeClickFix network, which was co-founded by Ben Berkowitz, who describes himself as, “Ben is a proud resident of New Haven, CT. The inspiration for SeeClickFix came from a desire to improve his own community with his neighbors and his government. At SeeClickFix he is CEO and a Co-Founder. Ben was named Huffington Post’s 2010 Tech Gamechanger.”
The SeeClickFix website is interesting, if for no other reason than you can see how San Francisco compares to other cities in actually fixing reported problems. And the news isn’t all the surprising… while lots of issues appear to be reported, very few of them appear to actually be resolved:
The app itself is called “Up2Code” and is available both on the Apple App Store and Google Play for android phones. It also has a companion San Francisco centric website, www.Up2Code.Org. The good news is that an app is now available to instantly and easily report anything in San Francisco you find offensive. The bad news is that there is not an app available to make it easy for anyone to complain about anything they feel like, perhaps including that unwarranted in-law in your garage…
The Up2Code app is pretty straightforward – for me, the hardest part of using it was just finding it in the app store. You can see screen shots of what the app looks like below, it is very straightforward to report an issue (screenshots 1 -3), as well as see issues near you in either a list or map format, as well as see who your “neighbors” are that have been busy reporting you and your neighbors.
After you have submitted your issue, it appears that you just sit back and… wait. And probably wait some more, based on San Francisco’s resolution rate as reported on the SeeClickFix website. You can also take a look around and find out who your “neighbors” are, and which have been busy earning “civic points” by pointing out issues.
The screen below is a list view of issues that have been reported in San Francisco.
Most neighbors, in my experience, are pretty reasonable folks. Given that this app has been around for over a year, I don’t think that every in-law in San Francisco (or other code violation, for that matter) is suddenly going to be reported and remediated (torn out, permitted, etc.). But the fascinating part (to me) is how easy it now is for people that are so inclined to report their neighbors for a variety of issues.
Anyone has always been able to come through a public open house and report any issues they’ve found, but up until now the amount of time and effort that has been required to file a report has meant that it very rarely happens. But when the ease of reporting an issue is literally “pull out phone, snap a picture, describe issue, click submit” does it change what issues will be reported?
“Is This The Best Way To Be A Neighbor?”
The app implicitly suggests that the easiest way to solve a problem with a neighbor isn’t to talk to them, but to take a picture and report them with your smartphone. I understand that some neighbors are, for lack of a better word, jerks. Sometimes escalating issues is the only way to get them resolved. But I’d hate to see our default social norms around what it means to be a neighbor degrade to the point where we expect nothing more from our neighbors than to have them report us to elected authorities with their smartphone any time they get the urge to do so.