New York City launches collaboration community – ‘Simplicity’

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city will be launching its own internal collaboration community last week. The community will run on Spigit’s crowdsourcing software and represents the largest city project of its type. The Mayor announced the project as part of his State of the City Address. CivSource spoke with Spigit CEO Paul Pluschkell about the project.

Spigit utilizes crowdsourcing capabilities, game mechanics, and social networking tools to create internal and external communities focused on finding innovative solutions to solve problems. For the city of New York, the company will be building a pilot community that contains 15,000 city workers from across agencies.

The community is called ‘Simplicity’ and will allow city workers to post ideas to improve services or save the city money. Others will then be able to comment on those proposals, and the city will implement the best ones based on a vetting process manged through the Mayor’s office. The city hopes that by increasing collaboration between workers regardless of agency, they will be able to quickly uncover ways to provide services more efficiently and save money.

Spigit CEO Paul Pluschkell backed up these goals by pointing to best practices established in other cities with Spigit communities. Perhaps the most notable is Manor, Texas – a city which has been extensively covered for its support of and success in utilizing technology to solve its problems. Pluschkell also noted that, some of the ideas being tested in this pilot came from an earlier, smaller pilot the company did for New York that showed early successes in engaging employees and constituents.

“It is very exciting to see such passion and dedication around engaging City employees,” said Pluschkell.

Pluschkell underlined the importance of collaboration tools in increasing morale within the ranks of city employees. Communities like Simplicity will empower employees to not only provide ideas, but take ownership of new aspects of their positions. In addition, citizens will start to see new changes and be able to interact with their city government in a new and hopefully more efficient way.

Pluschkell hopes that New York will serve as an example for large and medium sized cities of the effectiveness of cross-agency collaboration in realizing cost-savings, improved service delivery and better internal communication. The company will be working closely with the city to phase in the remaining 300,000 city employees over the next 12 months.