FixMyStreet, the site where people in the UK can report, view and discuss problems like graffiti, potholes and flytipping has finally launched a dedicated site for councils.
The initiative was started in 2007 by mySociety and has worked independently as a place for communities to highlight the need to get things done. The original aim was to show how the Internet could be used for civic good.
FixMyStreet for Councils takes the popular features of the original site and offers them to local authorities looking for an online way to deal with similar problems. The service charges local authorities and those profits will be used to fund mySociety’s not-for-profit ventures.
“Part of mySociety’s mission is to work with our public authorities to help them ‘do digital’ better”, said mySociety Director, Tom Steinberg. “We worked hard to ensure that a resident could report a pothole on FixMyStreet – or a broken street light, or whatever – with the minimum number of clicks. We’re very glad that councils recognise the benefits of that.”
The first councils to pick up the package are Bromley and Barnet. Chris Palmer, Assistant Director of Communications for Barnet, says that technologies like FixMyStreet are changing the relationship between councils and residents.
“Before now, we’ve tended to regard almost any contact as a complaint. In fact, it’s an entirely positive relationship with a resident. They’ve seen something in the street isn’t working, they’ll inform the council who’ll go and fix it. It rather changes our relationship with residents – it makes them our eyes and ears on the ground.”
Navigating a way between real issues in a local area and the right department for a local council can be frustrating when there are many issues that each local authority has to deal with.
FixMyStreet for Councils is designed to be a shortcut for services and a timely match for people who now expect access to much more via the Internet.
Naturally there’s a mobile version for reporting problems too. If residents are out and about when they spot problems, it makes sense that they should be able to take pictures and make notes on a mobile device and then be able to report it to the right place to get something done.
One of the key appealing ideas associated with FixMyStreet is the sense of transparency. Each time an issue is reported to a council via the service, it is also published online. The surrounding community can monitor progress this way and a bigger picture of where problem spots are can be seen. It is also a permanent record, so authorities that are quick to respond show up as areas where residents can rely upon that effort.
Image Credit: Alan Stanton