What gets measured gets improved. Or at least that’s what the team behind Avisora is hoping. Out of Mexico, the startup aims to empower citizens by allowing them to report day-to-day annoyances, vote on what others have reported and, in turn, drive change.
The concept behind Avisora, the brainchild of Andy Kieffer and Diego Méndez, is based on the broken windows theory. First introduced in 1982, the theory is that if a window is left broken and left unrepaired, those walking by will assume no one is in charge and no one cares, and more vandalism will occur. In other words, the little things matter. “One day, it dawned on me that Mexico today is much like New York City in the 80s and 90s – so many tiny annoyances that ‘broken ‘are just accepted as normal,” explained Kieffer.
And so, he and Méndez sought out a way to solve the issue by way of technology and big data. The Avisora app provides users a simple way to report problems and gathers information so that action can eventually be taken.
“By crowdsourcing the collection of data, and by making it easy and viral, Avisora collects an enormous amount of data. Then, we use votes to rank the relative priority of the problems,” Kieffer outlined. “By capturing and ranking reports directly from the people on the street – unfiltered by politics or bias – we have an accurate, unfiltered consensus on the problems that the citizens are concerned about.”
Of course, gathering the information is one thing. Getting government entities and businesses to act on it is an entirely different ballgame. The Avisora team hopes that making the data gathered widely and publicly available will up the pressure on governments, companies and organizations to address the problems for which they are accountable. The information will also help them to determine where resources should be allocated first.
Getting citizens engaged will be the first step. In that arena, Kieffer doesn’t anticipate problems:
We believe that people generally care. It’s just that, until today, there has been no satisfying mechanism to report the things that bother you. You can do an official report, but then what? Where does it go? Does anyone care? Without feedback, a physical record, or a solution, people just give up.
Avisora creates a visible record of user activity that others can see. If others agree, they can vote, and of course, sharing on Twitter and Facebook accelerates virality and votes. “It’s this feedback loop that makes it addictive,” Kieffer assured.
For the moment, Kieffer and Méndez are bootstrapping the project, paying out of their own pockets to bring it to life. They’ve launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to help them to go farther:
We have more that we want to do – a lot more. We have a six-month backlog of features and platforms that we are going to build in. Some of these include an Android version, better integration into other social platforms, adding other fun gamification elements to the app, data visualization … the list is long.
Thus, the team is looking for companies, brands and individuals who believe in a better Mexico and want to be associated. Avisora is accepting sponsors at every level.
In the short term, the project is focused on Mexico, though it could certainly be applied elsewhere. “I think that it’s an especially good fit here given that Mexico has historically been far behind the curve when it comes to transparency in government,” Kieffer concluded. “How is public money is spent? How are priorities established? Who is accountable for what? Mexico is trying to change dramatically for the better – there are tons of initiatives aimed at opening up government, making it more participatory, etc. We want to enable and be part of that change.”
See the video of Avisora’s official launch here: