Yet unlike many other of life’s irritations, the Internet has generally not made things much easier when it comes to government relations. After a decade of various dot-com companies that help you shop, search for information or find a date, there’s no dominant company devoted to streamlining the citizen-government process. The best-known one that tried, GovWorks.com, raised venture funding, but headed to an infamous ruin documented in the in the bubble-era film Startup.com.
However, the dream of finding a better way to report a pothole hasn’t died. Like most startup reincarnations, it’s just gone to level 2.0.
That’s how Kyle Brinkman, MySpace co-founder and CEO of startup CitySourced sees it. Brinkman and fellow MySpace veteran Jason Kiesel launched Los Angeles-based CitySourced a couple of years ago, with the idea that mobile phones could play a vital role in improving how residents interact with local government agencies.
The way the service works, a resident can report a broken light, a pothole or graffiti by providing uploading a mobile pic and location information, which gets “smartly routed” to the appropriate agency. The city sends out one notification when the alert is received and another when the problem is fixed. Currently, the CitySourced app is available on the iPhone and Android phones.
The company has eight cities signed on as customers, including San Jose, Calif., and Corpus Christi, Texas, and it is negotiating with many more, Brinkman told attendees of last week’s IBM Smart Camp event in Palo Alto, Calif.
So why is now the time to create a better pothole fix alert?
“Governments move slowly and you can’t move faster than they’re able to go along,” Brinkman says. Plus, only recently have smartphones with GPS and photo capability gained broad enough adoption to incorporate location-based features into an alert system.
To date, CitySourced has raised some angel funding and Brinkman says that they are looking at raising a small venture or bridge round of funding, although no Reg D has been filed.