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Berkowitz in July 2017
Benjamin Platner Berkowitz|
March 6, 1979
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
|Residence||New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.|
|Occupation||Entrepreneur, activist, web designer|
|Known for||CEO and co-founder of SeeClickFix|
Early life and education
Berkowitz was born in 1979 in New Haven, Connecticut, the first child of Jeremy I. Berkowitz (1948-2012) and Jody Platner. His father was a general contractor who owned the Red Rooster Construction Company in the New Haven area. His mother is a retired day-care manager.
Berkowitz's maternal grandfather Warren Platner (1919-2006) was an architect and designer who created the interior of the Windows on the World restaurant, which opened in 1976 atop the original World Trade Center. Platner is also known for interior design of the Ford Foundation Building in New York City. He created a collection of Modernist furniture still in production more than a half-century later.
Berkowitz's brother John Berkowitz (born 1982) is co-founder of Yodle, an online advertising company that sold for a reported $342 million in 2016 . He went on to become co-founder and CEO of OJO Labs. Sister Brianna (born 1985) is a special education teacher.
During college, Berkowitz worked as a part-time record-label representative in Washington, D.C. After graduation, he returned to New Haven and bought a home. He worked for his father's construction company and as a freelance graphic and web designer. He also created and sold souvenir t-shirts.
Berkowitz became the leader of a merchants' association that organized neighborhood cleanups, planted trees and opened a farmers' market.
Berkowitz is co-founder and board of directors president of Make Haven, a not-for-profit community tool shop for maker culture. He served on the boards of the United Way of Greater New Haven and the New Haven Land Trust.
Berkowitz spoke at the White House on July 3, 2012 at the invitation of its Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation. In a forum on Citizen-Based Innovation, he discussed civic technology and the crowdsourcing of government functions.
As part of his civic-improvement efforts in New Haven, Berkowitz began asking local officials for infrastructure repairs, tree trimming and other public services. He was frustrated by the difficulty of communicating with government employees and a lack of a mechanism for followup. The original idea came from the app FixMyStreet.com which was in use in England. He conceived a civic engagement website where citizens could pinpoint issues like broken streetlights and potholes on a map and forward the repair requests to local officials. The problems could be publicly documented and their progress toward repairs tracked through a geographic information system. In the spring of 2008, Berkowitz launched SeeClickFix with partners Miles Lasater, Kam Lasater and Jeff Blasius. 
Berkowitz and his collaborators were among the earliest programmers to use the Google Maps API (application programming interface) to create a third-party software as a service (SaaS) product. This technology made it simple for online media outlets to plug in SeeClickFix as a reader service. SeeClickFix was well suited for a new wave of hyperlocal media, which sought to engage readers with quality-of-life coverage and online forums. Smartphones and social media brought further acceptance, enabling SeeClickFix users to document and share repair requests on the fly.
The SeeClickFix client base spread to local governments, as municipalities began using the service to compile citizen requests and manage repair projects. By 2016 its staff had grown to 36. According to the SeeClickFix website, its service covers more than 25,000 municipalities and 8,000 neighborhoods in the United States and internationally. By October 2016, it surpassed three million cases reported.
Berkowitz proposed to partner Kathleen Fredlund while the two were creating a public-art mural at a highway overpass. They were married on August 26, 2012. They live in New Haven and have two children.
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- Hernandez, Esteban L. (October 27, 2016). "New Haven-based SeeClickFix celebrates 3 million citizen issues reported, the majority of them resolved". New Haven Register.
- MacMillan, Thomas (July 2, 2012). "Inside Out Claims 2nd Underpass". New Haven Independent.