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Co-founder and CEO Lily Liu discusses her civic venture, PublicStuff.
Give us the 140-character elevator pitch.
At PublicStuff we help local governments turn service requests and inquiries into tangible community improvements by connecting people directly to their city representatives from their laptop, mobile phone or tablet.
What problem does PublicStuff solve for government?
The widespread adoption of social media, coupled with recent initiatives that have opened up city data, is sparking a lot of citizen interest in city services. In response, there’s been a flurry of innovation to provide more engaging, effective ways to give residents better access to local government, however most cities are not set up to manage the resulting information flow. That’s where PublicStuff comes in. We solve this problem through a cost-effective, easy-to-use system that lets local governments manage and customize the ebb and flow of information and requests between a city and its citizens. Our customizable program allows governments to not only interact with their citizens, but truly manage the extensive amount of data they receive from inquiries and manage workflow.
What’s the story behind starting PublicStuff?
When I worked for the City of Long Beach, NY and Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office I was inspired by the idea of bringing together governments and constituents and making citizens more civic minded. However, I saw a lot of gaps in the back-end processes and knew there had to be more efficient ways to generate civic engagement. Those experiences, coupled with the motivating stories, companies and visions of the people I met through school and work, prompted me to create something that would meet everyone’s needs.
What are its key features?
We offer the most efficient, cost effective way for city officials to communicate with their citizens, and guarantee citizens’ requests go to the right city official. We pride ourselves on providing instant access to government with the ability to confirm you’ve been heard and to track the progress of your request.
Our Citizen Engagement Management Tools enable city representatives to view issues and resolution data by geographic boundaries, date ranges, residents and department to improve their digital communications outreach to residents. Our government facing CivicApps let officials create data flows on top of the PublicStuff app. Cities are then able to customize their platforms and distribute the most important information for their individual city, for example emergency weather alerts, holiday activities, animal shelter notifications and even updated information for sports teams.
We’re the only city-to-citizen solution that offers in-app translation. Through our One Voice service, citizens have the ability to submit requests and communicate with city officials in their preferred language, making city improvements accessible to all residents, regardless of language.
What are the costs, pricing plans?
For citizens, PublicStuff is free for all platforms.
For cities, our service is sold as a subscription and priced according to population. Smaller cities can get started for as low as $1000 per year, while larger cities can choose between a number of different editions which meet their needs and may include integrations with systems they already have in place.
How can those interested connect with you?
Cities looking to bring PublicStuff to their community can visit http://www.publicstuff.com/tour for information and a free demo. People across the country that want to communicate directly with their city representatives and have a stronger voice in community improvements can download the free app, and connect with PublicStuff on Twitter and Facebook.