HeartGov helps Brooklyn residents connect to elected leaders through text messages.

Photo Credit: HeartGOV

Photo Credit: HeartGOV

It's often difficult to get in touch with elected officials, especially when you have a specific concern on your mind. A graduate student is making this communication a bit easier by connecting Brooklyn residents with local leaders and community organizers. 

Asher Novek created HeartGOV, which is a platform that allows people to send a text message to a private website, which then alerts government officials and community groups. The idea is to open up conversations about residents' concerns.

“There’s something that’s different about getting a text message than an email,” Novek said. “It’s more personal, more conversational, like getting a response from friend or from family member.”

Leaders can view messages by issue, urgency level or phone number. When they send a response, it is sent back through text message, helping to keep the conversation in one chat. Novek said he created the platform as open-ended as a means of experimenting with how residents might use it. Currently, HeartGov is meant to encourage residents to speak out about anything from reporting potholes to inquiring about public schools. 

Additionally, the platform allows residents who don't have Internet access at home to connect with local leaders. It is estimated that 20 percent of Americans still do not have the use of Internet at home, which makes a platform such as HeartGov that much more useful.