MassKnowtify: Connecting local governments to citizens and communities everywhere

submission by jondearing

About Your Organization

Organization name(s):


Organization website:

Organization Twitter handle:

Organization Facebook page:

Describe your organization (check only one):

Nonprofit organization

For-profit organization



Please describe yourself (check only one):

Solo actor (just us on this project!)

Proposed collaboration (we want to work with partners!)

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.


We will bring MassKnowtify to every part of LA, so everyone can be better connected to information impacting their daily quality of life



We provide a location-based alerting platform connecting citizens everywhere with relevant and timely information from local governments

Does your project impact Los Angeles County? Check only one.

Yes (benefits all of LA County)

Yes (benefits a region of LA County)

Yes (benefits a population of LA County)


Please write a sample tweet to describe your submission.


MassKnowtify connects you to government alerts relevant to your location, creating more informed and empowered communities

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit? Check all that apply.

Central LA

East LA

South LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South Bay



If other, please specify.:

All of Los Angeles



MassKnowtify is dedicated to making communications between government and citizens more accessible, valuable, and effective. MassKnowtify solves distinct problems for both citizens and local governments: citizens can be connected to important localized information wherever they travel; local governments can increase citizen communication and engagement in a more direct and cost-effective manner. To achieve this, MassKnowtify provides a location-based public alerting platform to disseminate a variety of public alerts and notifications that are timely, accurate, and relevant to one’s specific location. MassKnowtify functions primarily as a mobile application but can also be accessed through the web from anywhere on any device.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?


MassKnowtify is currently in a limited release in Los Angeles and we have already partnered with local agencies to bring them on board. Our current web app is fully functional and accessible on all devices (smartphones, tablets, desktop browsers); however, our next milestone in our roadmap is to launch “native” apps for both iOS and Android operating systems to deliver better performance and reliability. Most importantly, access and use of MassKnowtify by citizens is completely FREE.

In order to offer MassKnowtify to all public agencies in the entire region, we will implement the following initiatives:

Platform development and enhancements
• Convert our current web app to native mobile apps for iPhone and Android
• Create an application programming interface (API) to integrate MassKnowtify alerts on city websites and other digital distribution channels
• Enhance MassKnowtify’s message analytics capability for public agencies to better assess the effectiveness of their messaging

Local government access and usage, and support for training and onboarding
• Provide access and use of MassKnowtify to all local governments in the greater LA region
• Provide account setup and training for new local agency users

Citizen and community outreach
• Host community forums and events, and partner with neighborhood and community based organizations, to drive citizen awareness and usage of MassKnowtify
• Conduct a variety of outreach efforts to acquire public agencies



There are 88 separate municipalities in Los Angeles County, each responsible for providing individual city services (police, fire, public works, etc.) through individual agencies within the municipality. For example, as one drives along Santa Monica Boulevard through West Los Angeles, one will have traveled through the cities of Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and West Hollywood all in under 7 miles. These circumstances make it difficult for a citizen to know which city agencies are responsible for emergency notifications and other essential city services. There are several other large clusters of cities throughout LA County—such as in the South Bay, San Gabriel Valley, and Southeast Los Angeles—with identical circumstances which present challenges for citizens to be connected to timely and geographically relevant information.

Looking into the future toward the year 2050, MassKnowtify can provide the basis for greater connectedness and trust in our local governments. In the wake of the recession, local governments everywhere are experiencing greater pressures to provide services in a more sustainable and cost-effective manner. In addition, civic engagement is important to the success and vibrancy of our communities which are in tremendous need of innovative solutions to drive greater civic engagement. By providing a platform to connect local governments to citizens, wherever they may be located, civic engagement can be dramatically increased in many new ways over the long run. Future extensions of MassKnowtify may include crowd-sourced information and alerts, and greater contextualized notification for various types of local information.

Building upon the 2014 Grant Challenge goals using results of the February 2013 Grants Challenge and My LA2050 Report, MassKnowtify addresses Public Safety as a priority focus area, which was the area with the least number of submissions in the February 2013 Grants Challenge. MassKnowtify also addresses cross-indicator trends from the LA2050 Report by addressing Technology to leverage new technology to build LA’s future and a new way of connecting to local government, and addressing Design & Innovation by applying technology and design to deliver a product and service benefitting all in Los Angeles. Finally, MassKnowtify increases and enhances Social Connectedness by making citizens more connected to their local governments–where they live, work, and spend their free time–in a dramatically new way.



MassKnowtify is a platform designed to benefit everyone in Los Angeles—residents, visitors, business owners, tourists—by connecting them to local government information that is timely and relevant to their specific location. Our platform is connecting citizens to government alerts and notifications that are categorized into three contexts: Emergencies, Quality of Life, and Community Services.

The Emergency context includes emergency events, natural disasters, and police and fire activity. The agency users include police, fire, and emergency management agencies. A key differentiator for MassKnowtify is that other systems are tailored only to the “local” population—the population of residents who have opted in to the system using a fixed address. MassKnowtify, however, provides notification ability to both the local and “visitor” populations. The visitor population consists of citizens who have not pre-registered for their local system, which may be for a variety of reasons including: lack of awareness of system, registration is viewed as too cumbersome, they live and work in different cities, or they are visitors from out of town.

The Quality of Life context includes street closures, construction activity, power outages, traffic incidents, and public transit delays. Certain available tools attempt to address this segment but since they are primarily focused on serving the Emergencies segment, they do not emphasize “non-emergency” communications because of the risk of oversaturating messaging and alienating citizens who have subscribed for the system. MassKnowtify allows each citizen user to custom select the types and frequency of messages to receive, and whether to receive them as a push notification, or by simply accessing the MassKnowtify system on demand.

The Community Services context is also an underserved segment of targeting citizens with timely and relevant information. In talking directly with local agencies, this context is very important to reach constituents that seek out or need their services. Examples include public events, recreation programs, tourism information, and public outreach campaigns.

Interest in MassKnowtify shown specifically from YOU through the LA2050 Grants Challenge will help fuel adoption by local governments throughout Los Angeles. Help us dramatically improve how governments connect to citizens with information that’s timely and relevant to them!

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.


We view each and every local government in the greater LA region as a partner with MassKnowtify. While we already have several local partners which have expressed interest in using and leveraging MassKnowtify in their public communications efforts, we are not identifying any specific partners in the context of this grant application to order to ensure maximum, yet equitable, opportunity for local governments to partner with MassKnowtify in our efforts going forward.

We have also assembled a group of key advisors that include former public safety officials and public communications experts, and we will continue to rely on our network of partner agencies and advisors to enable MassKnowtify to serve the needs of all Los Angeles residents.

To better connect with citizens and communities throughout Los Angeles, we will rely on networking with a broad spectrum of groups, including community based organizations, neighborhood councils and associations, local elected officials, and other civic technology providers.

How will your project impact the LA2050 "CONNECT" metrics?

Rates of volunteerism

Voting rates by race

Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support

Median travel time to work

Attendance at cultural events

Number of public transit riders

Participation in neighborhood councils

Percentage of Angelenos that volunteer informally (Dream Metric)

Government responsiveness to residents’ needs (Dream Metric)

Transit-accessible housing and employment (the share of housing units and percentage of jobs that are located within a half-mile of transit) (Dream Metric)

Total number of social media friends (Dream Metric)

Attendance at public/open street gatherings (Dream Metric)

Residential segregation (Dream Metric)

Access to free wifi (Dream Metric)


If other, please specify.:

Percentage of Angelenos connected to timely and relevant information from local governments wherever they’re located

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.:

Median travel time to work
• Timely and location-specific alerts for both public transit delays and street closures will improve travel times for all commuters.

Attendance at cultural events
• The ability to inform citizens of cultural and recreation events happening wherever they’re located--home, at work, or spontaneously while on the go—will increase attendance at cultural events throughout Los Angeles.

Number of public transit riders
• Improving the quality of information available to public transit riders by providing better access to real-time bulletins and alerts will increase trust and confidence in public transit providers, ultimately increasing utilization. Examples include service delays, outages, reroutes, safety bulletins, and special events.

Participation in neighborhood councils
• By having better information of what’s happening in their communities (police and fire activity, street closures, construction, recreational programs, etc.) citizens will become more informed and empowered to leverage their participation in neighborhood council system, engage our elected leaders and decision makers, and make a difference in their communities.

Government responsiveness to residents’ needs (Dream Metric)
• By communicating alerts and other important public information in real time, local governments can increase their responsiveness to residents needs by communicating how incidents are responded to in real-time for a number of city services—police, fire, public transit, public works, utilities, airports, recreation and arts, and more. This also reduces the amount of inbound requests and calls for service, which further enables local governments to prioritize the needs of their residents.

Total number of social media friends (Dream Metric)
• Improving the effectiveness and reach of public communications efforts through MassKnowtify will generate additional engagement for local governments through other social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook.

Attendance at public/open street gatherings (Dream Metric)
• By publicizing community events on MassKnowtify, citizens will be able to know of events near their where they live, work, and anywhere they travel.


LA is the best place to LEARN

LA is the best place to CREATE

LA is the healthiest place to LIVE

LA is the best place to PLAY



1. Metric: Number of local governments (cities and counties) registered
• The number of local governments registered throughout the LA region, including the 88 cities in Los Angeles County.

2. Metric: Number of agencies registered per local government
• Ensuring that each local government has the most number of agencies registered based on the services provided within each jurisdiction.

3. Metric: Number of citizens registered
• As more citizens are registered with MassKnowtify, the value to local governments continues increases dramatically.

4. Metric: Number of alerts sent per message category (police, fire, public transit, public works, airports, recreation, etc.)
• Evaluating how each agency uses MassKnowtify—both the types and frequency of messages—will enable us to better tailor our platform to the needs of local governments and citizens.

5. Metric: Percentage of alerts rated “helpful” by citizens across the platform
• MassKnowtify enables local agencies to receive ratings and feedback on their messages from citizens in real time. Using our message rating system, citizens can select either helpful/unhelpful for each notification received, which provides greater insights to local governments on how to improve their messaging efforts.



We’ve conducted extensive research on how local governments connect with their citizens, and the gaps that limit effective citizen communication and engagement. We’ve discovered two key lessons from our work: 1) local governments have a difficult time connecting directly with significant portions of their constituencies, and 2) citizens are increasingly demanding more accessible and effective ways to receive information from local governments that impacts their daily quality of life.

First, we’ve discovered that local governments have a difficult time connecting directly with significant portions of their constituencies. The most significant portion is the “daily visitor” population, which we define as people who live and work in different municipal (city) jurisdictions. According to the US Census Bureau, 60% of the entire population in LA County is a daily visitor to another city. Despite this significant percentage, there are no tools available to local governments to quickly and effectively target the daily visitor population, or any of their other constituents, while they’re on the go.

Second, we’ve conducted extensive market research on the demand for this type of platform from citizens and communities. Our survey data clearly shows that gaps that exist and what citizens demand. For example, we asked the following questions to over 100 citizens:

“How would you rate your city’s ability to communicate directly to you?”
Responses: Poor – 40%, Fair – 38%, Good – 21%, Excellent – 2%.

“In the event of In the event of an emergency or disaster, how confident are you in your local city's ability to quickly notify you of important information?”
Responses: Much Lower Confidence – 10%, Slightly Lower Confidence – 13%, Some Confidence – 47%, Higher Confidence – 23%, Much Higher Confidence – 7%.

The responses to these two questions indicate that local governments are not adequately equipped to be communicating directly and when it matters most, during an emergency.

Further, these same survey respondents were presented with an overview of MassKnowtify, and were asked to identify on a five-point scale their likelihood of using MassKnowtify as a smartphone app. According to the scale (1= Very Unlikely, 2=Unlikely, 3=Undecided, 4=Likely, 5=Very Likely), the average response was 4.3 which indicates strong demand for this type of platform.

Explain how implementing your project in the next twelve months is an achievable goal.


Our team has performed extensive research on the needs of local government agencies in their public information and communications efforts. We have successfully translated this research into the development of the MassKnowtify platform to create what is currently available to local governments and citizens.

Now, we are no longer in the pilot and development stage, and the service is available to a limited beta group in Los Angeles. MassKnowtify has received notable recognition in just the past few months with awards and honors from UCLA, Amazon Web Services, and Accela Software.

The LA2050 Grant Challenge will add to significant momentum to our effort. This funding will substantially grow and enhance what we’ve already built, and will provide for continued growth as we expand to all areas of Los Angeles and acquire both local government users and citizen users.

Presently, MassKnowtify’s platform development has reached the following milestones:

• June 2013: Completed market research with citizen users and public agency users demonstrating the demand for the MassKnowtify platform
• September 2013: Completed our version 1.0 product which includes separate interfaces for public agency users and citizen users
• January 2014: Established a test group of local government partners
• May 2014: Won 1st Place at UCLA’s Entrepreneur Venture Competition
• June 2014: Named Finalist at Amazon Web Services’ City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge, a global competition for apps that solve local government challenges
• July 2014: Won 3rd Place at Accela Software’s App Challenge, a global competition for apps that open up government data for citizens and enable citizens and businesses to connect with local governments
• July 2014: Completed our version 2.0 product which incorporates the feedback received from our test group

Our upcoming milestones are the following:

• Fall 2014: Begin acquiring live content (alerts and notifications) from agency test users
• Fall 2014: Launch iPhone App v1 on Apple App Store
• Fall 2014: Begin outreach campaigns targeting local governments in limited areas in Los Angeles
• Winter 2015: Begin wider outreach campaign for all of Los Angeles area
• Winter 2015: Launch Android App v1 on Google Play
• Spring 2015: Target date to acquire all 88 cities in LA County as MassKnowtify users

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?


Challenge 1: Acquiring two distinct sets of users – citizens and local government agencies.
• Strategy: MassKnowtify is connecting to two distinct groups of users: citizens and local government agencies. In order to successfully grow these user groups simultaneously, we will focus on building partnerships with smaller areas to create a more complete offering of notifications from all public agencies in a given area. Examples of these clusters of cities include: the Westside, South Bay, Southeast Los Angeles, and San Gabriel Valley. We will work with cities on an individual basis to focus on the specific message categories and use cases that can best be addressed with MassKnowtify.

Challenge 2: Continuing product enhancements while scaling and reaching new users.
• Strategy: MassKnowtify is built upon the most advanced and most secure server infrastructure available in the market through Amazon Web Services. The ability to scale our service effectively is critical to our success, so we’ve placed a high priority on system reliability and security. With the necessary infrastructure in place, our goal is to offer an enhanced user interface and native iOS/Android apps to achieve wider distribution of MassKnowtify. Funding awarded through this grant opportunity will enable MassKnowtify to scale effectively and serve all of Los Angeles.


Money (financial capital)

Volunteers/staff (human capital)

Publicity/awareness (social capital)

Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)


Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)

Community outreach

Network/relationship support

Quality improvement research

25 Pink talk bubble tail c96b4a07ef1417e25d0bcf5c4cba4766b8bbf0382f07677990a9d5577885d4d7

I get the point and applaud the intention, but a troubling question puzzles me: once so alerted, what is a citizen to do? How can the citizen link up with other citizens? How can the totality of affected citizens -- those who live somewhere where there's a happening, those who work there, and those in other locales facing similar issues -- pull together to make a point or get a task done? Where are the feedback loops, the input options, the collaboration tools necessary to respond to crises or just continuous challenges like monitoring school boards and library functions? Merely being informed of challenges, but not being provided the tools for responding, may produce anxiety at the least and angry frustration in the worst cases. Knowtify is half the solution. The other half -- the "bigger" half -- remains to be specified and developed.

by bluefire
over 1 year ago

Jon Dearing's concept for a mobile application, and web access, to provide a platform disseminating a variety of alerts and notifications to the public in Los Angeles, is a brilliant solution to the existing problem of communicating the city's most pressing issues regarding Emergencies, Community Services and Quality of Life.

I applaud these efforts and support MassKnowtify to the fullest extent. Los Angeles could become the model city for this most urgent and relevant service needed nation-wide.

by DennisPowers
over 1 year ago

This is a wonderful and important idea! I would definitely use this platform!

by cmchown
over 1 year ago

Brilliant idea with tremendous potential to enhance the public good by connecting citizens with critical information.

by drexler789
over 1 year ago

Great idea. Certainly hope it comes to fruition.

by Good1944
over 1 year ago

I am so happy to support this most important effort

by MeSee
over 1 year ago

wonderful helpful tool!

by SoulChief
over 1 year ago

MassKnowtify will make a huge difference to the entire community, promoting awareness, safety, and saving lives!

by langwot
over 1 year ago

MassKnowtify is essential for the world we live in today. Los Angeles is just the first step. People say "knowledge is power" - MassKnowtify is undoubtedly the most powerful and effective medium that will have ever been created in order to keep us in the "know".

by happyspitters
over 1 year ago

We who live in the greater Los Angeles area live in earthquake country--which means that, at any time, we may need access to emergency information. MassKnowtify is an important resource that can help to not only inform the public in an emergency but also provide that peace of mind referred to in the previous comment. The MassKnowtify tool is a direct connection to real time information that is always as close to me as my phone.

by silentchef
over 1 year ago

This is a much needed tool IMO for many reasons but I'll share one recent incident which really made me realize it more. It was about 11PM and my phone sounded an alarm (not typical ring tone) and I woke up in a hurry to silence my phone since it was loud and startling. Once I had accomplished turning off the alarm I began to look for the message or missed call or whatever it was that prompted the alarm...I couldn't it! I was still curious since it was relatively late and I wanted to be sure I didn't ignore an important message. I searched the web for different keyword combinations: "los angeles breaking news", "west la police department news", "cbs local breaking news" and a few others...the result...there was no breaking news I could find. After about 30 minutes of surfing the web for any indications of what was going on I gave up and went back to sleep. The next morning the amber alert from the previous evening hit the twitter feeds and I finally knew what the alarm notification was about.

Based on everything I've read, MassKnowtify would have given me the critical information and peace of mind to be aware in the moment as opposed to the next day. I was lucky the notification wasn't a critical one in terms of having to take action on behalf of my family. If it was, I would want to rely on a timely, efficient and reliable service as opposed to possibly being left in the dark. Thanks to the MassKnowtify team for recognizing this issue and trying to solve it for the public good. Cheers.

by SJaber
over 1 year ago

This is a wonderful and handy platform that will help many people connect with information that will dramatically impact their daily lives. I believe it will help citizens be more aware of what is going on around them and in turn be able to address local happenings effectively and efficiently.

by cmchown
over 1 year ago

You are driving home alone at night. Suddenly,, three cop cars and a fire engine pass you with sirens screaming. What's up. Am I in danger? Is my family in danger? Whats happening? Can I help?.

Press MassKnowtify. Get the facts -- fast and clear -- from those who know. Those in charge can talk directly with the citizenry, instantly when and where needed. It will happen. .Los Angeles can lead the way.. Other cities will follow. A giant leap for all.

by hhdearing
over 1 year ago

Interesting concept that stands to benefit both local governments and citizens. Information is key, and this initiative seems like an intuitive solution that is easy to implement. Currently, it's difficult to choose which media outlet to turn to in obtaining reliable information during emergencies. Most news outlets are severely delayed in reporting events and Twitter is hit or miss, especially when travelling to other parts of LA. I'm definitely hoping this project pans out - I see it as saving me time and empowering me with crucial information.

by hmoaven11
over 1 year ago

This is a much needed and well designed platform that truly connects our government with its citizens in a very pragmatic way!

by sdearing
over 1 year ago

MassKnowtify solves a major problem that other mass notification systems have missed. I appreciate that I will receive relevant information based on my geographic location. I often travel to many parts of the County from Santa Monica to East LA to the Valley to the Port of Los Angeles. MassKnowtify is a much needed platform that will definitely improve my quality of life.

by monmcd
over 1 year ago

Oftentimes the people of Los Angeles county feel too distanced from their government, this platform is a great way to bridge that gap and notify us of many pertinent situations that arise in a large city.

by conti519
over 1 year ago

Oftentimes the people of Los Angeles county feel too distanced from their government, this platform is a great way to bridge that gap and notify us of many pertinent situations that arise in a large city.

by conti519
over 1 year ago

In the event of a disaster this product is crucial. With so many natural disasters around the world, it's clear that technology like this could save lives. Keep up the good work.

by luc.doucedame
over 1 year ago

Excellent idea, clearly addressing a huge unmet need...seems like a very elegant aolution to address a complex issue. In order for this to truly be impactful, local governments will need to buy in to the concept, and im confident they will take notice very quickly. I look forward to seeing this platform develop further, great work!

by Rxguy
over 1 year ago

Mass Knowtify is clearly the missing-link between Angelenos and our local government. This technology stands to vastly improve our quality of life by providing the transparency and communication critical to establishing an informed public. I am confident the day will come when people wonder how they got along without Mass Knowtify.

by Ahalff
over 1 year ago

Excited about this The fact that Angelenos spend more time in their car, stuck in traffic than any other city in the country is idea like this starts to change the way we can commute and communicate

by RxFuller
over 1 year ago

This is a missing link in communicating with so many people who travel across the City but always have their phones with them. They can connect to true local issues that effect us all, regardless of where live and/or work but where we ARE.

by ValleyJohn
over 1 year ago

Can't wait to see what you can do with MassKnowtify!

by Jmoonves
over 1 year ago

Fantastic idea and greatly needed in LA!

by TravisW
over 1 year ago

Pink ribbon award box icon 45b87e779c93f5099a48378c2aadc0fcd51184974daecf76e3f5c50034ea21fb
Award topvotedidea 5a5ae14e3d56a10363ea2a398cece46cf4df891213cbe68677c19d8903a1932a
Circle 1 inactive e7784182a1bd5eace578987db27fc19ec6337f418c48c6c8732605b9043d50d0 Step1 title submission inactive cde083e53089b973e7c9dc80a44a038c1ce4cf3b2650aeb5549157d1ed58a2d9

Submission Began
Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Submission Ended
Thursday, July 31, 2014
at 07:00 PM UTC

Circle 2 inactive 74a43088831beb43fdbd7591ef5d50a5a7a26ff92c9e8ed489782459fa31a8d9 Step2 title voting inactive 96be722f53c417edddb5742ba9a6dc2fd403f7e4f6c19dbe883d50d20d93689d

Voting Began
Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Voting Ended
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
at 07:00 PM UTC

Circle 3 83da7a9432aeea960e1a9e9ee93e7ea1221af6c8f42b27964f2e9999d94b2b8d Step3 title 3d9e2a65d6ea1ad301f8fc607f5f828bd96362932c71d81c0da5b1fd964422b0
Special Olympics World Games 2015
Special Olympics World Games 2015

Winner Announced
Tuesday, September 30, 2014