Facebook’s Virtual Solutions for Actual Potholes, Crime

Call it the FarmVille effect. Activists and entrepreneurs, astounded by the amount of time people spend tending to non-existent farms, are deciding that they need to have a presence on Facebook. This was the justification for the Facebook-based human rights game “America 2049” that launched yesterday, and the same logic underpins today’s launch of SeeClickFix on the site.

“Report non-emergency news, receive alerts in your neighbordhood,” sums up the site. A SeeClickFix user reports an issue–a pothole, say–and uploads the information to the site. SeeClickFix then feeds the information to utilities, the government, and the community; the issue is (ideally) fixed; and that information is in turn relayed back to the community. You can create geography-based “watch areas” of interest to you, and receive alerts about your neighborhood. “We provide the technology,” in the words of the site, “but engaged communities do the hard work.”

In New Haven, where SeedClickFix is based, police officers have signed up to receive SeeClickFix alerts on their blackberries; these have “spearheaded a number of arrests.” SeeClickFix was founded in September of 2008, and received $1.5 million in funding in January.

And now it’s on Facebook. For that, thank FarmVille. “Facebook has proven to be a powerful platform for encouraging people to plant virtual trees and improve virtual neighborhoods,” co-founder Ben Berkowitz told TechCrunch. Now, how about actual neighborhoods?

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