Citizen Tech in Santa Cruz County
Today marks the official launch of the Citizen Connect application for the County of Santa Cruz. That’s right, the County has created a mobile application for iOS and Android (iPhone and Google operating systems for the uninitiated) that will allow for citizen reporting of things like potholes, graffiti, abandoned vehicles, and even illegal dumping. County citizens can participate by snapping a photo of their grievance, along with their location, which is then forwarded to the County. Beyond that the app also features an interactive map of all of the County parks within the unincorporated areas so that you can explore new public places and their amenities.
The app is similar to what other Bay Area cities have done in creating the 311 system, which also empowers citizens to report things like pot holes and standing water via text message, but it goes one step further in creating a centralized portal of sorts that can also be used to look up commonly searched government information, and even pay County taxes and fees from your phone. It can even facilitate online voter registration! And really this is just the beginning because the app can be easily (hopefully) expanded to incorporate a whole host of other interactions… Paying/contesting your parking tickets anyone?
And while the initial launch is pretty rudimentary in comparison to other more commercially focused apps, it does take a clear step in the right direction for Santa Cruz. Government 2.0 is all about information accessibility and interaction, and you can bet that more people will be able to access information easier through this app, and have a better relationship with their local government because of this experience. So thank you Santa Cruz, I downloaded it this morning and I have already made plans to see a park that I have never visited before.