Public data and how to guilt trip a local council | James Dean

Tom Steinberg, a Director at mySociety, which builds pro-transparency websites, gave an interesting talk at The Times today.

He spoke about FixMyStreet.com, a site that allows people to mark local problems (potholes, graffiti, fly tipping) on a public map – the point being to pressure the council into sorting the problem. The site also sends an e-mail to the council.

Steinberg said that 50 per cent of problems notified are fixed. That sounds like a staggeringly good return, achieved simply by making the complaints process public (and easy). It’s a fine model to build upon (in fact, mySociety is trying to repeat the success with FixMyTransport.com).

Initially dependent on charitable funding, mySociety now also makes money repurposing its sites for use abroad – see for example Mzalendo, the Kenyan version of They Work For You. Power to the people, and all that.

Twitter: @jamesdean_lives

Read more: There’s gold to be mined from all our data

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