Introducing Citydotzen: a chatbot to engage with your local gov

Recently we came across a beautifully wise and simple piece of technology at Democracy Squared and today we’d like to showcase it. It is smart because scaling democracy will no doubt require increasingly local initiatives for direct participation. It is wise because it has an epic name. It’s called Citydotzen and is the brainchild of Democracy Squared Community Member Alexis Gerome.

What is Citydotzen?

A civic chatbot in facebook messenger that helps citizens to report problems and give ideas about their city by enabling them to engage in seconds with their municipalities thus creating a positive feedback loop within the community.

Why we created it.

Here at Citydotzen we hate the feeling of powerlessness that comes from either not being able to improve something, or not being able to help people.

And I bet you also feel the same way.

This is what we discovered when creating Citydotzen. In the 21st century people, you, me, feel powerless when it comes to things related to official authorities, even if deep in our hearts we are in fact desperate to do something and improve our surroundings.

This is human nature, we mostly want to help and do good around us.

However for us to help, it needs to be fast, simple so we don’t have to think, else inertia or bystander effect will always win.

Until now there wasn’t a satisfactory way to enables citizens to feel good about themselves, saving them time and gathering important crowdsourced data to improve cities urban experience because of the weight of the bureaucracies or limited possibilities of available solutions.

This is why we created Citydotzen — The first chatbot (A computer program that holds conversations through a chat room.) that empower citizens to report problems or propose ideas to their cities.

What we add to the game.

Thanks to that we are able to solve 3 problems that will enable citizen engagement to skyrocket!

Less Friction

We are the most seamless solution to engage as a citizen because:

  1. Communications apps are the most used by far on any devices

2. Messaging has been the most natural way people used for decades in expressing themselves through digital technologies.

3. We are where people interacts, so we do not change your habits. 
(No apps to download / update)

Unique Experience

By reducing friction we are able to get more people to interact and then by offering them an awesome experience you hook them in doing to do more.

From academic research we know that we change our minds through our behaviors (source) and this is not a new thing.

“People become virtuous by acting virtuous” — Aristotle.

Experience is the key, and by making you feel good by doing a good deed in a matter of seconds and in a fun and interactive way is the key component for you to come back and continue doing it again!

Scale

By having more people interacting because it is brutally simple to do so and offering them a fun unique experience that improve your surroundings we reach a point where things spread, and that’s why being platform-agnostic will be key.

For only existing on Facebook messenger we have an immediate reach of 1 Billion people in a matter of seconds. Then, we still have to go for Telegram, Slack, Line, WeChat, (WhatsApp? will they open it?) and any others ways we can connect with people (web / voice / VR).

Vision

We believe that expressing your citizenship shouldn’t be hard or a nightmare, and that our future will be built collectively between citizens and elected decisions makers.

National politics are too complex and too remote from the life of people for them to have an impact, so our goal will be to focus on the more local level, where people live and where they can have an impact on their surroundings, together.

We want to see people proud in sharing that thanks to them the city is better, that they have been able to report and solve this problem, thus improving the quality of life of their neighbors too.

Some of you may be thinking, “Okay great but cities need to follow up on that”.

You’re right, this is why we are going to work directly with them (We are in talk with the city of Amsterdam) and for this reason we are offering them a platform that will improve the existing feedback loop.

Cities will be able to take better and more relevant decisions for the wellbeing of its citizens, solve problems in a faster and more efficient way, and as a result be more resilient and inclusive.

Next steps for Citydotzen.

Well we just launched this week! We are available Worldwide!!

For now we are in beta, and we want to share with you, the community in order to get feedbacks and learn from you what’s working, what’s missing, and how we can improve.

So next time you spot a problem or have an idea in the city you live, just tap Citydotzen in your messenger search and talk to us.

Citydotzen in messenger.

Then, we want to build a worldwide community that can help us drive through and keep going down the bumpy road we will take. We know we won’t be able to change the world alone, but together we will, and that’s why we believe in this.

Because we exist for the common good we want the community to be able to support it and for this reason we are preparing a crowdfunding to help us keep us going and secure our financial independence.

Enter in contact at hello@citydotzen.com to help. Else you can help by sharing this story or giving us a push by recommending us to people that could help us in terms of network, mentoring, or cities connections.

Follow our journey on FB / Twitter / Instagram.


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