Featured Case from Uruguay: "Por Mi Barrio"
“For my neighborhood” (Por Mi Barrio) is an online geolocation platform that allows the citizens of Montevideo to pin on a map any tangible and concrete problem related to urban public services, such as broken streetlights, potholes, and littering. The user can make the claims via smartphone or a computer by simply identifying the problem in a location according to predefined categories and with the option of adding a commentary and/or a picture. The report is forwarded directly to the city administration’s Single System of Complaints, and citizens can monitor whether the issues reported are being addressed or have been solved.
The software was developed and launched in 2014 by the civil society organization DATA (Datos Abiertos, Transparencia y Acceso a la Información) with the financial support of the Civic Innovation Accelerator Fund (Avina Foundation and Omidyar). DATA works closely with Montevideo’s city council to connect the citizens’ reports with the correspondent department from each city district. The integration allows the platform to publicly notify the progress on the administration’s response to the signalized problem according to three states: “accepted”, “in process” and “resolved”.
“For My Neighborhood” is based on the widely replicated open source platform “Fix My Street”, launched by the UK charity MySociety in 2007 and funded by the Department for Constitutional Affairs Innovations Fund. The original version has been largely used in the UK with a nationwide scope. The citizens’ reports are sent to local authorities via e-mail or directly to their Customer Relationship Management system. From 2007 to 2013, the British platform has registered close to 400,000 reports submitted by over 150,000 users (Sjoberg et al 2015). The Uruguayan “For My Neighborhood” is designed only to enable citizen participation at Montevideo’s city level, but in approximately two years has already records of 2,039 reports and 878 users. Most of reports in the Montevideo’s platform refer to waste collection services, whereas the UK’s version covers mostly potholes, and flaws in roads and street lighting.
Similar models have also been implemented in Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Finland, and Switzerland. In Latin America, an identical replica of “For My Neighborhood” was introduced in 2015 in Costa Rica. The Chilean foundation Ciudadano Inteligente has also developed “Barrios en Acción” (Neighborhoods in Action) based on the same “Fix My Street” open source software. Similar crowdsourcing geo-localization platforms are under development and in expansion in the continent, covering a wide variety of issues, from reporting against crimes to enabling collaborative action to prevent outbreaks of dengue fever.
DATA (2016) Por Mi Barrio (online) http://www.pormibarrio.uy/
Sjoberg, F.M., Mellon, J., and Peixoto, T. (2015): The Effect of Government Responsiveness on Future Political Action. Working Paper 1. Digital Engagement Evaluation Team. World Bank.