A Brazillian startup took to the social networking approach to collect testimonies from residents about the precariousness of public facilities such as sidewalks and streets, in order to connect people to public management.
The buzz generated around the site (which has already caught the attention of the city of Recife, hometown of the creators) led Colab to the final of the second edition of My City App, which rewards new mobile applications that improve the urban experience, connect people, and make cities more fun, fair, vibrant, and sustainable places.
The event, which will choose the winners will take place in São Paulo, between Tuesday (June 4th, 2013) and Thursday (June 6th, 2013) promoted by New Cities Foundation , a non-governmental organization founded in 2010 by GE, Cisco and Ericsson to promote practices that transform cities more creative and sustainable.
Other apps nominated include app traffic BuzzJourney (Israel), and PublicStuff (United States).
Colab allows posts are classified under three umbrellas: monitoring, assessments and proposals.
The first is the most recurrent. Within it are pointed, for example, bike lanes interdicted by works, buildings occupied by homeless and bus terminals to pandarecos.
The second deals with action suggestions to the government, such as the installation of a roundabout on a road to facilitate traffic.
The latter was created for citizens to assign “stars” to public services, ranging from urban cleanliness of a city to the operation of a school.
All users can view any messages. For easy viewing, the home page displays, the principle only posts the city or the state of the user. To read what recifenses think of their city, for example, you need to change the classification of the “news feed” that can turn to consider the most recent publications, the most talked about, the friends or the whole country.
“The Colab is not just what the citizens see. It has tools for municipalities processing information and controlling, for example, the problems were solved,” says Bruno Aracaty, one of the creators of the application.
In Recife, where it was initially released, all demands posted by users are sent to the municipality. According Aracaty, the resolution rate is 5%. Low? Maybe, but it demonstrates that the tool has the potential to mobilize the public about the needs exposed directly by the citizens.
This, incidentally, is one of the possible sources of profitability of Colab, says the executive. The tool can be a public ombudsman system to be used by municipalities to receive and monitor complaints about public facilities.
The other is to create functions that allow the platform to be used by companies to associate their brands to conduct citizen and develop a system of crowdfunding (collective financing) to solve problems (plugging a hole, for example). Finally: ads.
The startup, which grew out of a joint initiative of two other companies, already have a business plan and starting up conversations with investors. The team will be formed between 10 and 15 employees.