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Citizen Intelligence is a project of many parts. The part you see right now is the commercial part, a private for profit company in startup mode with most of it existing as private data structures off the Internet. Just this part doesn’t make much sense because for the business model to make sense two other entire entities need to be created and they don’t exist yet outside a few blog posts and some brain work. The overhead of creating a 501(c)3/4 combination exceeds the present utility of the tax deductibility so until there’s enough money coming in, those will stay virtual parts of the whole, unrealized as legal entities and Citizen Intelligence will just take the tax hit. It’s cheaper overall.

The three parts start with a 501(c)3 dedicated to creating an ethic of sharing information from civic organizations, public and private, to the public who are the ultimate bosses in any modern free society (well, not counting the divine who files no paperwork anyway). The group will collect and curate for the benefit of all, public information that is available to oversee civic organizations, private and public, especially starting on the already available voluminous information that governments share today. This is tentatively named Citizen Intelligence Trust.

The second portion is Citizen Intelligence Foundation, a 501(c)4 group that is a social welfare organization akin to the ACLU and the NRA. Its job is to educate and encourage the adoption of the ethic of sharing information that the 501(c)3 Trust will be curating.

The third portion is Citizen Intelligence, a commercial operation dedicated to monetizing the information curated by the Trust and expanded by the foundation so that the whole enterprise is self-sustaining and immune from outside funding pressure.

What makes this division of labor important is that none of it individually has any lock-in. Each segment can be forked at will. There are two major sources of protection for the organizations. The first is the winner-take-most aspect of the market. Anything that achieves significant traction in this market ahead of any competitors is likely going to wind up collecting all of the marbles and lock in dominance for a long time so long as it actually delivers fair value. It’s a natural monopoly which means the only way to get dislodged, once established, is to become abusive of your position and significantly overcharge for the value received. Since the data itself will be published without restriction, anybody can come in, but why would they bother undergoing the expense? The only motivation is the psychological comfort of empire building which happens often enough but that’s creepy enough that it counts as abuse right off the bat.