Clearly, quite a few Web 2.0 start-ups aren’t relevant to the mainstream audience. They just fulfill the need of a – rather geeky – niche. Nothing wrong with that, I mean, most of those start-ups look ready for a very profitable future, but every time when I bump into a start-up that is also relevant to Average Joe, I get really excited.
It proves that Web 2.0 can improve just about anybody’s live, even the one of a 78-year old grumpy lady. Just imagine that she has to avoid a seriously dangerous pothole in the pavement right before her door, every day again. She once almost broke her hip when she forgot about the darn hole.
Where is this going, you wonder? Well, let’s just assume she is the neighbor of Paul Oldham. He IS interested in Web 2.0 and recently found out about FixMyStreet (FMS). That’s a website where citizens from the UK can report, view, or discusses local problems like graffiti, fly tipping, broken paving slabs, or street lighting.
Paul also noticed the pothole, and reported it on FixMyStreet. Two minutes later, FMS sent it to the Cambridgeshire County Council. With a bit of luck, the old lady won’t have to worry about potholes anymore.
The site is run by a registered charity, which received money from the British government. It’s a simple and brilliant idea: use the advantages of Web 2.0 to improve people’s wellbeing. And people use it on a big scale: just last month already 365 problems were solved.
It’s most likely a matter of time before this efficient concept will be introduced in other countries as well. And just think of other ways this idea can be implemented in our societies. My suggestion: give people a place where they can say what they’re missing in their neighborhood: “When do we get a swimming pool around here?!”. I think it’s a great way of making opportunities visible to entrepreneurs.
UPDATE: Paul Oldham himself told us in the comments that the pothole has been filled.