WRAL.com encourages citizen reporting in Raleigh

WRAL, Capitol Broadcasting’s CBS affiliate serving the Raleigh-Durham (as well as Chapel Hill-Fayetteville), NC, has launched a new partnership with software vendor SeeClickFix and the city of Raleigh that allows local citizens to report civic problems using the cameras on their mobile phones. The move is an effort by WRAL to engage viewers in new and creative ways, something the pioneering broadcasters have accomplished with several different emerging technologies — including one of the first to broadcast DTV, HDTV and ATSC Mobile DTV — over the course of its history.

Rather than reporting local news, the citizens in this case focus their smart phone cameras on routine civic issues like potholes, broken street signs, garbage collection snafus and graffiti. SeeClickFix allows the user to simply click “send,” and the photo goes to both WRAL and to city officials.

SeeClickFix is a technology platform created to provide a direct connection between residents and their city governments. It allows anyone to use the Web or a mobile app to report an issue in their area and is already used by citizen reporters in hundreds of cities around the world.

Launched in New Haven, CT, in 2008, SeeClickFix supports online and mobile platforms that enable citizens, community groups, media and local governments to address problems in their neighborhoods. It now claims to have millions of viewers and has logged tens of thousands of reports.

WRAL is underwriting what it calls “professional-level” accounts for each Raleigh city council member, the mayor and the city manager. Although SeeClickFix is free for anyone to use, agencies or administrators can purchase professional level accounts for faster and better issue management.

The SeeClickFix software is also integrated into the WRAL website, which allows easier tracking by Raleigh residents who have a convenient way to report and track problems. The various issues are plotted on an interactive map as they are received and assigned colored markers. As the problems are fixed, the markers change colors so residents can track progress.

The service is accessible online, and via iPhone, BlackBerry and Android mobile platforms. Its widgets can be found on media partner websites including the Washington Post, Gannett, SFGate, Philly.com and Boston.com.

At WRAL.com, Raleigh residents visit the website and type in the word “fix” to find the link.