Viewing The Burg - University of California 3rd Annual Pitch Competition

Matthew Pell

Alumni of UC Los Angeles - History (Undergraduate)

The Burg

The Burg is the community's platform, a digital public square that funnels local representatives and local news to verified voters. By building a Burg for each district and hosting unique features such as online town halls, we're giving people a new way to engage with their local government. We operate on three pillars: 1. Connect the community 2. Inform the community 3. Make it easier for representatives to actually represent the community. 1. We connect the community by verifying voters and placing them in their own city or city council district. We built our own voter verification infrastructure working with the CA Secretary of State’s office. All we need is a user’s name and birthdate and we can cross reference and check their voter status and place them within their correct city. Verified voters are given unique access and an “I Vote” sticker that acts as a badge indicating their status in the community (slightly similar to a Twitter checkmark). 2. As Pew Research Group and Mark Zuckerberg have stressed, local news is directly correlated with local civic engagement. If we can better inform communities with relevant local news, they will be more likely to civically engage. Our answer: we pick up RSS feeds of local newsrooms (e.g. here in LA we use the local section of the LA Times and Daily News, Curbed.LA, etc.) and streamline them to Burgs across the city. We customize this for each Burg depending on their area and automatically refresh at 8 AM and 3 PM everyday. 3. Local Representatives now have a never before seen direct tap into the pulse of their community, and not just to a data file but real access to their living and breathing constituents. They can interact with verified voters directly in real-time and can host online Town Halls (combo of a Reddit AMA/Quora Session) where voters can submit and upvote questions for up to 2 weeks in a democratic system for reps to answer. Most citizens don’t even know who their local representatives are. Not only will they know who they are, but they will be on the same playing field. We also worked with the Google Civic API and the Voter Information Project so when there is an election is coming up, Burg users will get notifications and can see what’s on the ballot. In summation, these pillars come together to form a digital public square, the front page for your city. We can finally give our physical communities the connectivity of online spaces. Democracy works best from the bottom up, not top down and we have designed The Burg to reflect that. We have been bootstrapping The Burg since August 2016 and building as lean as possible. This summer, we were invited to the 85th Annual U.S. Conference of Mayors Civic Pitch Competition in Miami. We pitched The Burg in front 300+ mayors and won First Place against a number of established and highly reputable civic tech companies. Since then cities and mayors across the country have asked us to bring The Burg to their town as soon as we can. We will be launching exclusively in Los Angeles County in the coming days and have already secured a number of partnerships and commitments from the city governments of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Santa Monica who are eager to get on the platform.

Primary Industry Sector: Other
Funding Status: Preseed

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