Having bought or partnered with a handful of startups or competitors in the past three years, the integrated communications company has launched a new division focused on interoperability with SeeClickFix.
When citizens want to file a service request with their local government to fix a broken sign or pothole in the road, they usually have options. Most of them have mobile phones, and access to phone numbers, email addresses, Facebook pages and sometimes online portals specifically dedicated to that purpose. In some cities, this means a lot of interactions between staff and the public that are difficult to trace and keep track of over weeks or months of addressing them.
A newly formed division of CivicPlus, an integrated communications company based in Kansas, wants to tackle this problem by integrating its software with a former competitor’s work-order management tool.
The new division is called CivicService, announced this week as a department to oversee the union of CivicPlus’ CP Connect, which handles the administrative back end for citizen requests, and SeeClickFix, a company and product that CivicPlus acquired in October. CivicPlus’ then-Vice President of Client Services Cole Cheever told Government Technology at the time that an integration between the two would manifest in 2020, and a press release this week confirmed it.
Leading CivicService is Divisional Business Leader Ben Berkowitz, formerly of SeeClickFix, who said the two teams started working together this month on updates of the two products expected for release by mid-year. He said the CivicService division is just shy of 40 employees, mostly headquartered in New Haven, Conn., about a third of whom are working on research and development.
“This new division is advancing both products in a way that they complement each other and work together,” he said. “Being able to track all of that information can be really helpful to a city so they can understand the load on the people who are customer-service-facing. That goes beyond the more structured service request model. Now with CP Connect, we’re able to track all those conversations back and forth.”
Berkowitz said updated versions of SeeClickFix and CP Connect will continue selling separately. He added that the new CivicService division will also be responsible for a document product called CRT, or citizen request tracker, which has about 1,000 customers and an update planned for February.
Cheever said in the news release that the impetus for the creation of CivicService was customer demand for a single inbox for emails, phone calls and social media posts. But according to the news release, besides that single-inbox feature, the updated versions of those products will have a contact record to log citizen interactions, workflows that automatically send requests to the right departments, and interoperability with more than 20 other asset management or IoT products from companies like Cartegraph, Cityworks, Bigbelly and Esri.
Berkowitz said that when SeeClickFix was acquired, it had more than 400 government customers, CP Connect had around 30, and the total CivicPlus organization today has more than 3,500. He said the company’s nearest competition is probably the citizen-engagement platform Rock Solid, which merged with CitySourced in April 2019. Still, he thought CivicPlus’ products have a leg up in terms of integrations and the scope of how they handle citizen requests, which go beyond work-order management to what he called “relationship management.”
The launch of a new division of CivicPlus is perhaps a result of a strategy, articulated by Cheever in October, of buying and consolidating competitors and adjacent products. SeeClickFix was at least the company’s fourth buyout in three years, after its acquisition of Rec1 in January 2017 for a parks and recreation product; BoardSync in October 2017, for an agenda and meeting management product; and Virtual Towns & Schools in July 2018, for an open-source content management system. The company also announced a partnership in October 2019 with Canadian citizen engagement company Civil Space.