If you place a premium on corporate responsibility and being a well-informed consumer, then you will no doubt celebrate the release of BizVizz, which allows you to learn more about a company’s taxes, political donations, subsidies, profits and other corporate behavior matters.
The idea is to make America’s largest corporations more transparent so that people can educate themselves on more than 300 included companies, representing more than 900 brands. Scan logos or search for brands to recall company data, receive alerts about campaigns you may want to join, and share with others what you’ve learned. What you find out just might surprise you. Click “more” to check it out.
VizBizz displays a few tutorial slides upon startup, but it’s not such a difficult app to figure out or navigate, so even if you fly past these you’ll be fine. Either way, once you get to the home screen, you’ll see your main tabs (from left to right):
Envelope – BizVizz will periodically push messages to you about ways to get involved and make change happen.
Grid – You can browse companies by tax rate and profits by clicking here. (Requires push notifications to be enabled.)
Camera – This is where you can snap photos of products or logos.
History – Use this tab to recall information on companies or brands you’ve recently viewed.
Story – Learn more about BizVizz, plus provide feedback.
Using the camera feature is easy. Just snap a photo of a product or logo, being sure to fill up the frame. Make sure your photo is well-lit and free from shadows and glare.
Whether you photograph a logo or search for a company, as soon as the app recognizes the make or brand, it will deliver your results including the tax rate, affiliated campaign contributions, profits, taxes paid, state and local subsidies, and how the company ranks in its industry.
If you want to share this information, just tap the Share button at the bottom of the page, or the Forward button at the top of the screen, to reveal your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn options.
Tapping on the Explore icon allows you to view a grid of companies which can be displayed and sorted according to tax rate, profit or popularity. Displayed are the logo, name and data. Click on any one for more information.
If you’re interested in learning more about how BizVizz came to be, you can click the Story icon, which explains what purpose it aims to serve. The gist is this: The developers behind BizVizz recognized that in today’s volatile economic climate it can sometimes be a bit baffling as to why certain corporations receive tax breaks and government subsidies despite huge profits. So they’ve set out to deliver all the facts and allow the consumers to draw their own conclusions.
The documentary As Goes Janesville was a driving force behind the app’s creation. The film covers Wisconsin’s war over unions and tells the story of a town that loses its GM plant. The BizVizz folks saw leaders arbitrarily giving away tax dollars without even holding public hearings, which made them want to make corporate practices more visible.
You can watch the trailer for As Goes Janesville directly in the app, as well as a clip for We’re Not Broke, a film about corporate tax cheating. And of course, you can acquaint yourself with the entities behind the data in BizVizz: Sunlight Foundation, Good Jobs First, CTJ and others.
BizVizz is simple in function, easy to navigate and well organized, and the information is displayed in a very clean format that’s readily understood.
I believe apps like BizVizz have an important place in society and on our smartphones, since, after all, one of the major pluses of the digital age has been to put knowledge in the hands of the people.
Personally, I found it pretty interesting to learn more about the profits, taxes and political contributions of some of the companies I regularly support. While it remains to be seen how this impacts my future choices as a consumer, I’m positive the facts will at least make me think twice.