Can “Civic Hackers” Help the City of Detroit Make Business Run Smoother?

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to seeking help from the private sector, BSEED is rolling out a new department processes and procedures at an event on June 27 at Cobo Center. (The event is free but requires registration; click here to register.)

Helen Broughton’s business card lists her title with BSEED as Business Advocate II, but it was clear she’d taken an interest in improving the way the department was functioning all-around since coming on board last fall. “If we want to be the Detroit of the future, we have to have more transparency and civic engagement rather than having super closed doors, where you think of the city and want to tear your hair out,” she said. “It should not be that difficult.”

She said thanks to a concerted effort over the past year to capture lost revenue and increase efficiency, the department now is now in the black to the tune of $5 million. “We really feel like business begins and ends with us, and we think we can make a really big impact on making business run smoother in the city of Detroit,” she explained.

Broughton noted that the department plans to do better at education and outreach so new businesses owners know how to work with BSEED to in the first place. Another big push is connecting with businesses operating illegally in the city and padlocking the doors of businesses that don’t respond to notices or tickets. “It’s really important to reset the baseline so customers can hold us accountable and we can expect the same accountability in return,” she added.

But back to the issue of how will BSEED get its phones answered. Scott Kloustin, co-founder of RingCatch, a local Internet-based, on-demand answering service, came up to Broughton as soon as pitching had concluded and offered his services. Could bringing Detroit city operations into the 21st century really be as easy as connecting bureaucrats with the local tech community? For the sake of anyone rooting for a successful Detroit, let’s hope so.

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Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the Custom Content Editor for Xconomy Insight. You can reach her at Follow @Xconomy

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One response to “Can “Civic Hackers” Help the City of Detroit Make Business Run Smoother?”

  1. Very cool writeup — nice shout out to the Ringcatch team who could easily help solve the cust. service issues experienced by BSEED.