Kajoo asks citizens to hack their city

For those involved with civic hacking activities, the next phase is always up for debate. New applications, ideas and people are entering the space every day. The team behind Kajoo hopes to add a new spin on civic hacking with their application, which was launched over the weekend at SXSW. CivSource spoke with Dan Walmsley, Product Manager about Kajoo and how people can help their cities.

Kajoo is designed to be an open source, social good application based on game dynamics that calls on users to compete to report and fix problems in their city alongside their local government. As part of the launch, the team at Kajoo has released the code and is asking hackers to start contributing. The best additions/versions will be given a unique [mycityname].kajoo.org subdomain.

Walmsley calls Kajoo a “hack my city initiative,” which is designed to go beyond reporting potholes or other basic public works fixes common to current city maintenance apps. With Kajoo, users are encouraged to report all problems and build in deep customization. “We can’t presuppose that civic involvement is going to look the same in every city,” Walmsley says. “The way it looks in Montreal may look different than Nairobi. So, we’ve designed a framework that encourages customization and can scale very quickly.” Rather than leaning solely on public works agencies, Kajoo also encourages citizen repairs to problems.

Kajoo was created as part of the New York StartupBus at SXSW and is already in use by the city of Madison, WI. The team is also in talks with Rio, Brazil for a larger project ahead of several major events in the city.

Walmsley hopes that cities and civic hackers all over the world will use the application to build a community around social good in their locale. In addition to hackers, Kajoo is currently seeking test data from everywhere – users can tweet problems in their city along with location/identifying information to @kajooit or with the hashtag #kajoo. Users can also suggest solutions to reported problems.