PublicStuff, the New York City based startup that makes a system to let citizens make real-time requests to their local governments for public services, has raised $5 million in new funding. The financing was disclosed today in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
We’ve reached out to PublicStuff for details on who the latest investors are and how the new funding will be deployed. We will be sure to issue updates with any more information we receive.
Update: A PublicStuff representative tells us that the funding was provided by FirstMark Capital and the Knight Foundation along with the company’s previous investors. PublicStuff also provided the following statement attributed to co-founder and CEO Lily Liu:
“FirstMark is an incredibly well respected firm and we’re thrilled to work with them and the Knight Foundation to further expand our services. In this year alone we’ve expanded to over 200 cities nationwide, including the City of Philadelphia. We will be using these funds to grow the team, enhance the product and bring civic engagement tools to more communities worldwide. We’re excited to share with the public what the future has in store as we take civic engagement to the next level.”
PublicStuff’s last funding round was in November 2011, when the company brought $1.5 million from a set of investors that reportedly included Lerer Ventures, First Round Capital and High Peaks Venture Partners. PublicStuff was co-founded in 2009 by Liu and CTO Vincent Polidoro and first launched at the Fall 2010 DEMO conference.
Here’s PublicStuff’s value proposition: Say you notice a pothole in the street or lingering trash on a curb, and you want to report it to the authorities. The way that most cities typically manage the reporting and handling of such issues is through a telephone line or a basic email inbox, which means that the reception and handling of public requests can be slow and spotty. PublicStuff has made a web-based system aimed at providing a faster and more efficient way for such requests to be submitted, received, and closed out.
On the public-facing side, PublicStuff’s system lets people report outstanding issues to the relevant local authorities via the web or its apps for iOS, Android and Blackberry. On the government’s side, PublicStuff provides a web program for city staff members to monitor the inbound service requests and manage the assignments. People who make requests can check back in on the progress of the fix.
In addition to local governments, PublicStuff’s offering is also available to the likes of landlords and educational institution — basically, it’s open to be used by any entity who handles a number of consistent inbound service requests.
With people flocking to cities more and more, and the demand for more tech-savvy government growing consistently, it seems that PublicStuff’s offering could be well-positioned for even more traction going forward. According to a recent press release from the company, PublicStuff is already in use in over 200 cities nationwide. It’ll be interesting to see how much more the company expands going forward now that it has some more funding in its coffers.
As its name suggests, this latest launch siphons off the BBC’s audio broadcasts into a separate, standalone service. Kicking off at around 1pm UK time today with the Web-based version, the new iPlayer Radio app will then hit Apple’s App Store shortly after, and it will be arriving on Android in due course too.
We’ve known for some time that Radio would eventually be launched as a standalone service as part of the BBC’s restructuring and, ultimately, the existing iPlayer mobile app that you know and love will be video only, though no timescale has been given as to when radio will be migrated out of it.
The Next Web was on hand at the launch to get a quick hands-on with the app, and it looks and feels exactly like iPlayer…except it’s radio only. There are some changes to the interface and features that make this a little different though – for example, it has a really neat turning dial that lets you browse the various BBC channels, a little like a traditional radio.
It also has an Alarm Clock feature, which lets you set iPlayer Radio to launch with your favorite station at a pre-set time…for example when you wake up in the morning:
You can also easily access archived content by swiping through the various days and weeks to specific broadcasts:
Other key features include the ability to save favorite stations to your personal dial for easy access – why would you want BBC Radio 5 Live on your homescreen if you only like listening to music-based shows? Setting programme reminders for your favourite shows, and the ability to discover what songs are currently playing, either saving it for later access or share it across the social sphere. You won’t be able to play the tracks back, however, it’s merely information about the songs.
Interestingly, the lines also blur between the two iPlayer products – though iPlayer Radio is substantially audio-only, you can also tap video snippets that are relevant to a broadcast, for example a live music performance. And you can also view live webcams from radio stations.
We managed to catch up with both Daniel Danker, General Manager, Programmes & On-demand at the BBC, and Mark Friend, Controller, Multiplatform & Interactive, for BBC Audio & Music, to get the lowdown on this new product…and why the BBC saw a need for a separate radio offering.
While this little factoid may not be entirely surprising, people consume radio and TV in different ways. From the perspective of iPlayer, 20% of users access the service to watch live TV (meaning 80% use it for catch-up), but with radio it’s a different story altogether – 90% of users tap it for live broadcasts, which means that its vast swathes of recorded radio broadcasts remain largely untapped post-broadcast.
This was a key consideration with the new offering, and Danker told us that one of the reasons for a standalone service is with a view towards surfacing older broadcasts. Naturally, this will lend itself better to some stations over others – for example, feature-length programmes from Radio 4 are more likely to sit well in on-demand than, say, Radio 1′s Breakfast Show. But surfacing on-demand content is not the only reason – given the different ways its audience treat TV and radio, this in itself merited two distinct products.
In the coming months, iPlayer Radio will be developed to include more content and features – the service you’ll see at launch is only the beginning, according to Friend. “BBC iPlayer Radio is the platform on which we will develop radio stations as fully multimedia brands so that as well as listen, audiences will be able to watch, share and engage with BBC radio,” he says. “Our next steps will be to make live radio more interactive, make it easier for people to enjoy the BBC’s vast audio archive and strengthen radio’s position as the number one place for discovering music in the UK.”
If you’re not an iOS or Android user, you will of course be able to access the new iPlayer Radio service through the Web-based version on BlackBerry and Windows Phones…there are no immediate plans to launch native apps for other mobile devices, though that could change if there is demand.
We’re told that BBC radio listening across smartphones and tablets has risen significantly over the past twelve months. Year-on-year, monthly iPlayer requests for radio increased 56% to 2.8m on mobile, and 300% to 1.2m on tablet, and now with a new standalone product, Danker reckons this will drive uptake even more.
“BBC iPlayer Radio is radio for an audience that expects to access our content anywhere: now you truly can take BBC Radio with you wherever you go,” he says. “It’s also radio for an audience that wants greater choice and control. They want to listen again when they choose, to personalise their listening experience, to share tracks they’ve discovered with friends. BBC iPlayer Radio delivers all of these things, in a simple, consistent, easy to navigate way. At the heart of it is the BBC’s quality radio programmes, and iPlayer Radio sets those programmes free like never before.”
The native iOS iPlayer Radio app should be going live within the next 24 hours. Meanwhile, check out the official promo video below.
Update: the iOS app is now live.
Featured image Credit – Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, has sent his first tweet. Despite joining Twitter in January 2010 his verified account had never tweeted anything — until a few moments ago, when he said this:
I’m starting Conference with this new Twitter feed about my role as Conservative Leader. I promise there won’t be “too many tweets…”
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) October 6, 2012
The “too many tweets…” comment is a reference to a radio interview in 2009 in which Cameron was asked for his views on Twitter, and whether he might start tweeting, and he replied: ”The trouble with Twitter, the instantness of it – too many twits might make a twat.” (The Guardian has a video clip of the moment here.)
Use of the word “twat” on a live breakfast radio show got Cameron into a spot of instant hot water — and he subsequently apologised for his choice of words.
The PM’s office tweets coalition government-related policy pronouncements and updates from the @Number10gov account. But of course Cameron can’t use an official government channel to discuss Conservative Party-specific issues — hence his need to kick-start @David_Cameron.
Why Cameron feels the need to open up a personal communication channel now — with the specific aim of discussing his role as leader — can be explained by growing rumblings of discontent in the Conservative party about the direction of his leadership.
A report in today’s Guardian notes that two of Cameron’s most senior cabinet colleagues are backing a group calling for a major overhaul of his leadership strategy.
Conservative party traditionalists have been angered by his attempts to modernise party policy – which makes it all the more apt Cameron has taken to Twitter — the epitome of a modern digital communications medium — to try to silence his critics. This is ‘put up or shut up‘ in the social network era.
Update: Cameron’s second tweet, sent within hours of the first — nailing his colours to the Tory modernising mast (by announcing £140m in red-tape busting funds for NHS nurses) — is a textbook example of photo opportunity politicking:
See the rest here: UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, Sends First Tweet
I am a large enterprise. I employ many people and make a good deal of money.
I am a large enterprise. A vast array of technologies – with varying degrees of purpose and tenure – are required to run me. I have a complex, heterogeneous technology landscape. I have hundreds of millions of dollars of technology assets deployed on laddered refresh cycles through a variety of delivery models, all supporting highly differing divisional requirements across a number of development platforms. I employ thousands of developers, architects, and technical managers. I own just about every form of software known to man.
I am a large enterprise. I am not sexy. I am complicated. This will not change.
I hear my legacy hardware providers oversell the cloud capabilities of their latest gold-plated appliances. I hear them fear-monger over my security and performance vulnerabilities.
I also hear those “cloud purists” that condemn me for being lethargic to adopt “real” scalable cloud technologies. They tell me that if my applications are not smart enough to use the public cloud efficiently, then I simply need to rewrite them.
I hear those that vigorously espouse the virtues of open source technology. The obvious benefits of accessible source code often carry support and extension technology costs with them. I’ll use open source all day if a) the software works, b) its capabilities align with my use-case requirements, and c) the math makes sense.
If you unnaturally extend or generalize cloud solutions to me, or if you pontificate cloud idealisms without providing tangible platforms that can service what I am, then you waste my time. When you waste my time, I discard you.
Please don’t misdiagnose this as me being slow to adopt your solutions.
I believe my cloud IQ has come a long way over the past year or so. I feel like I can now defend myself from the incessant white noise of the cloud washers:
Hybrid cloud: It’s not a buzzword for me, but rather a requirement. Further, my public and private clouds will need to communicate and rely on each other.
SaaS? Yes! From big SaaS (Salesforce, Workday) to emerging SaaS (Box, Zoho), I love them. We’ll migrate (or rewrite) applications to leverage the advantages of public cloud and/or SaaS as much as we can, as fast as we can.
ERP? Well, now that’s, uh, difficult.
I need to make billions of dollars worth of product across thousands of SKUs every year, then store them, pick them, ship them, and invoice them. My products require complex recipe formulation, and in some cases, hundreds of bill-of-material subassemblies. I have a vast fleet of moving stock and so on. I need heavyweight functional systems to transact this.
This means that right in the middle of my cloud strategy sits a very large, highly integrated, very functionally intelligent, and very expensive “dumb app” (as you may refer to it from a “cloud-aware” perspective). I’m a very large SAP customer, and I spend more on this application and its supporting infrastructure than on any other one technology I own. It’s for this reason that it amazes me that most cloud providers simply punt when in comes to large-scale integrated ERP in the cloud.
Will large-co ERP and its legacy deployment model give way to big SaaS? Probably. Will that happen anytime soon? Not likely. Salesforce and Workday are not replacements for SAP and Oracle. They can enhance them, or replace some of their applications, but not wholly replace them. They just do not have the integrated business application breadth. Period. Have you ever tried to capacity-plan a packaging floor on Salesforce? Have you ever tried to run MRP, pick a pallet, and then run the resulting transactions through inventory accounting on Workday? Didn’t think so.
Can cloud really benefit ERP? It can, and to be clear, I’m not talking about running SAP on a virtualized appliance. That is so mid-last-decade.
As Freddie Mercury once sang:
Gotta find me a future, move out of my way
I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now
To run SAP in the cloud, here is what I need:
You want adoption? Give me this and web scale, and I’ll adopt your face off.
Excerpt from: The Enterprise: I’m Not Sexy And I Know It
The fractured state of the Android platform cam make it a task to get an app up and running that won’t want to make a customer through their tablet in the river.
Testing can be a bear but cloud-based services are providing new ways for developers to quickly see how their apps look on any type of device.
In its presentation at PIE Demo Day in Portland on Friday, AppThwack’s Trent Peterson said the remedy comes in automating the testing. Through its cloud-based platform, developers can get answers in minutes to how their apps behave on all the various devices and version of the Android OS that people use. AppThwack runs a lab that tests every device that runs Android. They use that lab as the foundation for its service.
Here’s how it works:
For more information, I’d recommend Sarah Perez thorough review of the service that she wrote in July.
To get a picture of Android’s ecosystem, here’s a chart of its platform and the different versions running.
Since July, AppThwack has run 563,000 tests so these guys know what works and what does not. I asked Peterson what he would recommend to enterprise developers building apps for the Android platform. He gave me these five pieces of advice:
Enterprise developers would be wise to look at services that provide custom testing. Companies like AppThwack can recommend tools and strategies, or actually help in writing the test plan and scripting it. Testdroid is another service to explore.
A service like AppThwack won’t solve all your problems but it certainly can make development a more streamlined task and keep your customers from throwing their smartphone in the river.