May 9, 2018 · Magic City · (No comments)

A couple from Coral Gables, an upscale suburb of Miami, has launched a new website and mobile app based on their experiences dealing with building and public works departments in the Magic City.

CityGrader is a new web app that lets residents from several American cities provide reviews and opinionsa about their police departments as well as various municipal agencies. The online platform is similar to Yelp and TripAdvisor, but instead of reviewing hotels, restaurants and pubs, users can express their opinions about the level of service they received from municipal servants and members of local law enforcement agencies.

Thus far, CityGrader allows residents of 40,000 cities provide input; as can be expected, Miami is one of the most active cities. The developers of the app used to be in the residential construction business; they felt that the feedback they provided about the effectiveness of the agencies they dealt with was not reaching supervisors, decision makers and elected officials.

An interesting aspect of CityGrader is that users can provide feedback on specific city employees, and this is possible because most cities make their staff rosters available to the public. CityGrader will also encourage direct and on-the-spot feedback by means of kiosks installed at the City Hall buildings of Miami and Coral Gables.

The transparency that CityGrader seeks to provide is urgently needed in Miami and other municipalities in South Florida, a region that is often criticized for rampant corruption and inefficient operations.

Elected officials will also be part of CityGrader’s options; this could be a concern in the future since political operatives have been using online “sock puppets” and trolls to advance the agendas of their clients. A good example of this situation is the ongoing investigation into Russian operatives and their manipulation of social networks such as Facebook during the 2016 presidential election.