DEMO: PublicStuff and the crowdsourcing of potholes

At a time when municipal governments are strapped for cash, the team at PublicStuff is hoping to provide them a boost by giving them a new way to streamline resources.

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It works like this: Let's say you have a broken streetlamp in your neighborhood. Using the interface on PublicStuff, you can file a quick report that will alert the appropriate agency to both the location and the nature of the problem. And what's more, the more people on your street who report the light, the more the agency will see it as a priority.

PublicStuff CEO Lily Liu says the program will save agencies time because it will take all requests made for the same problem and bundle them into one. So instead of having to field 20 calls from 20 people about the same pothole, the agency will receive one alert telling them that 20 people have reported a pothole. Additionally, users can vote submitted requests up or down. This means that if some crazy crank in your neighborhood keeps filing requests to have someone from the government come to pick out all the dandelions from his lawn, you and your neighbors can vote him down, thus showing the agency that he's not really a priority.

Liu says the company is looking forward to playing around with more 4G connectivity in the near future as it will allow users to utilize video when they file a request with their local government. So if there's a dangerous intersection in your neighborhood, you can take a video showing officials what makes it dangerous and where an added stop sign might help.

Of course, while PublicStuff might be a boon to public safety, it might also be a bane to teenagers partying while their parents are away. According to PublicStuff CTO Vincent Polidoro, noise complaints so far have been the most popular form of request filed with municipal governments.

"We were a bit surprised," he says. "Noise complaints are actually bigger than reporting damages to roads."

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