I recently reported a problem in my local community and had a call back from my council within 24 hours. The problem was sorted by the end of the week. My council, Hackney, isn't famed for being at the forefront of public service innovation.
The site is so great because it provides a complete solution to an individual, without needing mass participation to succeed. That is, if Fixmystreet was like Digg, I would need to make thousands of people support my complaint for the local authority to notice it. That would be undemocratic, particularly in areas of low broadband penetration. Instead, Fixmystreet works beautifully. Give it a go next time you're unhappy with your local council and tell someone else about it.
Why is this so important? Because:
- so many new startups are dependent on building a mass audience to deliver a good user experience. And that's getting harder and more costly.
- it shows the internet doesn't have to be trendy or catchy or need marketing expertise to deliver social benefits. In short, value over volume
- the many to one relationship of Fixmystreet means that lots of people can put pressure on a single organisation which (may) have to change or act accordingly - whereas a many to one relationship (think, local petition) would be a classic excuse for inertia.