The digital wave is at full strength and its impact on government continues. The fastest, emerging trend is how mobile applications help government agencies improve efficiencies, serve citizens more effectively, and make decisions faster. SeeClickFix has become the “gold standard” for public sector agencies serious about improving the customer experience.
When Mayor Frank Ortis of Pembroke Pines, FL attended the 2014 National League of Cities conference, he was looking for a solution to his city’s growing graffiti problem. “I was going out to dinner with my lovely wife,” Mayor Ortis said, “And every time I went to dinner I’d stop when I’d see graffiti, a light out, or something — and jot it down. And my wife says, ‘Can’t we just go out to dinner?’
According to the recent article “Slowly but surely, Government IT enters the 21st Century”, author Jon Brodkin writes “Government IT departments have a mostly deserved reputation for being behind the times. While private companies keep giving customers new and better ways to buy products and learn about their services, government agencies have generally made it difficult for residents to interact with them via the Internet. But this is slowly changing, with agencies from the local level to the federal level focusing on fixing broken websites and building new tools for Americans to get what they need from the government.”
Mayor Ortis was proud to be the eyes of Pembroke Pines — but he needed a way to locate and address as many issues in his city as possible. When Mayor Ortis left the conference, he left with a solution: SeeClickFix.
SeeClickFix is a mobile and web platform that allows citizens to report non-emergency issues to their local government. The platform allows citizens to play an integral role in public services — routing these neighborhood concerns like potholes and light outages to the right official with the right information. As Mayor Ortis said, “So I saw SeeClickFix [at the National League of Cities 2014], brought it back. It’s an inexpensive application for IT guys to put together. And now I have thousands of eyes — 167,000 people in Pembroke Pines.”
For the citizen, the process of reporting a problem in your neighborhood can be problematic, confusing and opaque. Connecting with the correct agency is tedious and once you have, receiving updates on your concern is even more difficult. This process is so broken that most citizens simply give up. By the way, remember not to interpret silence as affirmation of a job well done. Unfortunately, due to the bureaucratic gravity that can vaporize your existing customer complain/inquiry system your agency may only hear from those citizens insistent about having their issue resolved.
For governments, routing problems to the right place, with the right information can be equally as painful. Typically, the process will involve a handful of departments, phone calls, sticky notes, and excel spreadsheets. Inevitably, problems fall through the cracks. If the problem gets to the right place, it is even more difficult to update the citizen on progress, and thus, frustrated citizens often escalate concerns to elected officials who put further pressure on officials to improve service.
SeeClickFix solves this problem by providing cities an integrated platform for service request collection and management.
Citizens submit requests via SeeClickFix mobile apps and website tools — city call takers enter phone calls, drop ins, emails and tweets into the SeeClickFix as well. From there, these requests are routed either manually or automatically based on location and request type, to the right person with the right information. “A lot of people are using it, downloading it free on their phones. They see something wrong: they click it, brief description, send it to me (I get a copy),” said Mayor Ortis.
Then, city staff will be notified within SeeClickFix (or an external work order system via integration) that work has been assigned. As the work is updated and subsequently closed, the citizen will receive automatic updates. “Then [the issue] goes right to the department that fixes it, and we keep in touch with that resident.” said Mayor Ortis, “It is a win-win for our city.”
This “win-win” result is that SeeClickFix increases the total level of citizen participation as well as the perceived quality of these services while reducing the costs associated with these services by reducing phone calls, introducing automated responses and reducing the frictional costs of communication.
“Remember — one broken window — that’s all it takes,” said Mayor Ortis, “SeeClickFix fixes that. We used to have a tremendous graffiti problem. Now we’ve eradicated it with SeeClickFix. Because we get it, the property owner has to fix it within 24 hours or we’ll go there and fix it and charge them. So, with SeeClickFix, don’t be afraid! Use it — your residents will love it, and you’ll love it.”