Thought Experiment — Public Service Matching

I’ve been on a brief hiatus for a couple of months
and have been thinking about the next endeavor. After some personal time off (even now), there was one idea that’d come to mind. The hard part about it is getting feedback from a product perspective. How do you do that in a way that garners enough attention, brings in interested individuals, and siphons the idea into something usable?

So, I’m writing this as a thought experiment to see what feedback I could garner for an app idea (and prototype). Namely, with public service infrastructure, the hardest part about getting engaged with an institution is how do you reach them and about what? There’s some movements in the Civic Tech space with Open 311, but how do you talk about moments of epiphany about positive comments or questions?

Summary

  • 3M residents in silicon valley; 1M in San Jose
  • 50 requests incoming through mobile apps; 1,000’s coming through phone
  • Inefficiency issues in getting the right feedback
  • Inefficiency in the right departments receiving the feedback

Users

  • Customer Service Directors — Government employees who run day-to-day operations for customer service departments within departments in a municipality (both city and county). They need to quickly triage and propagate work incoming requests in an efficient and effective manner.
  • Community Relations Directors — Government employees who directly interface with the public in regards to social media and email. They need to ensure the department and municipalities are directly interfacing with the needs of their constituents and are kept happy with the service provided. They want to provide greater engagement and quality interactions with citizens and department staff on feedback and requests.
  • Residents — Citizens and individuals within specific geographic regions that depend on public infrastructure to live and perform tasks day-to-day. They need to have infrastructure to run efficiently and effectively. They want not have to interface with their public works departments, but understand that it takes feedback in order to populate how well the infrastructure is running.

Problems

  • Community Relations Directors: Customer service responses don’t go to the right departments.
  • Customer Service Directors: Customer service requests don’t have enough information to be serviceable.
  • Residents: It’s difficult to send customer service requests and feedback to public agencies.

Product Offering

Provide a mobile app experience that adds a description, location, and photo. Using a matching algorithm, provide recommendations on departments to send the request to and sends a customer service request to individual public service departments. Each request requires a verified e-mail address and, potentially, a physical address.

Mockups

App (prototyped on Ionic Framework)

Distribution Strategy

First, target individual geographic regions, such as Silicon Valley, to improve on ways to match filters to recommended departments. Stick to regions with a distribution strategy of tech-savvy, civic oriented residents and focus on garnering normative samples of early adopters. Build up regions supported based off of data-informed recommendations from feedback from the user base. Then, expand using volunteer groups and customer service departments as advocates of a free mobile app
across iOS and Android.

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