Online Tools Every Community Should Use

at NationSwell: “Larger cities like Chicago, San Francisco and New York continue to innovate civic technology and bridge the divide between citizens and government, while this progress is leaving small communities behind.
Without digital tools, staff or infrastructure in place to bring basic services online, small local governments and their citizens are suffering from a digital divide. But one Silicon Valley mind is determined to break that barrier and help smaller cities understand how they can join the digital movement…any civic technology should include the following eight tools:
Bullets: Crime-related data that give residents a sense of how safety is handled in the city.
Examples: CrimeAround.Us, Crime in Chicago, Oakland Crimespotting
Bills: Providing citizens with more transparency around legislative data.
ExamplesOpenGov’s AmericaDecoded, MySociety’s SayIt, Councilmatic
Budget: Making public finances and city spending available online.
Examples:, OpenSpending, Look at Cook
Buses: Transportation tools to help residents with schedules, planning, etc.
Examples: OpenTripPlanner, OneBusAway
Data: Open, organized, municipal information.
Examples: Socrata, NuData, CKAN, OpenDataCatalog, Junar
411: An online information hotline used in the same regard as the phone version.
Examples: CityAnswers, MindMixer, OSQA
311: Non-emergency online assistance including reporting things like road repairs.
Examples: SeeClickFix, PublicStuff, Connected Bits, Service TrackerOpen311Mobile
211:  A social services hotline for services including health, jobs training and housing.
Examples: Aunt Bertha, Purple Binder, Connect Chicago
“The opportunity is that we have the chance to take all of these components that are being built as open-source tools and turn them into companies that offer them to cities as hosted platforms,” Nemani told Next City. “Even a 10-person shop can put in a credit card number and pay a hundred dollars a month for one of these tools.”
While Nemani admits each city will be different — some places are too small for transportation components — working towards a template is critical to make civic technology accessible for everyone. But by focusing on these eight tools, any town is off to a great start….”