Community-feedback tool of the day: YouTown

YouTown is a new mobile app for local governments, is launched in January. Think of it as Yelp for the public sector.Innovative tools for customer feedback have proliferated as mobile connectivity has become more common and the internet has become more social. The Seattle company DotGov believes it’s time to make it as easy to find information and offer your opinion about government services as it is to praise your barber’s expertise and gripe about the terrible service at your neighborhood pizza parlor.

In January, DotGov will unveil YouTown, a mobile application that aggregates information about local governments and provides mechanisms for easy feedback. Government Technology describes YouTown as a “Yelp for the public sector.”

Each local government that opts to use YouTown will essentially have its own mobile app:

In order to utilize the application, government officials can simply go to, fill out a form and get immediate access to the management interface, said [CEO Michael] Riedyk. “It’s not a single app; it’s a platform,” he explained. “Within an hour, [governments] already have a mobile app available to the public.” Once signed up, governments can customize their settings based on what citizens want to utilize.

DotGov believes that one of the most important benefits of YouTown will be making”open-source” information more easily accessible. And a more transparent government can empower citizens:

[U]ntil the Internet brought communication to a whole new level, it was tough for regular citizens to gain access to any government data.  Now that cities can share their information online, people can feel informed and knowledgeable about their communities. […]

When local governments place their data feeds (maps, calendars, news, regulations) into the app and offer it to their residents, they are instantly participating in the open data phenomenon.  The open information (though it was “available” before) is suddenly more dynamic, useful, and relevant.  It gains potential to be utilized in countless new ways.  That’s why open data can benefit your town — and with YouTown, open data is easier than ever.

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