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Not Enough Residents Using New Service Request Platform

The City of Alameda should have a better picture of the impact of SeeClickFix by July.

The City of Alameda should have a better picture of the impact of SeeClickFix by July.

Action Alameda News discussed the impact of the city’s new service request solution, SeeClickFix, with deputy director for public works Liam Garland.

The City of Alameda launched the place-based reporting platform SeeClickFix in November of last year. Anyone who has used the system may have noticed a steady stream of e-mails in their inbox reporting an issue “…just reported by one of your neighbors.”

Residents can use the system, including with an app on their smartphone, to report concerns ranging from litter and graffiti to damaged sidewalks and potholes, and even to make public record requests. The app facilitates sending in a corresponding photograph.

Action Alameda News asked Garland if the power of the new system was facilitating more service requests; the system is premised on neighbor-to-neighbor sharing and transparency, and one person’s complaint could be a neighbor’s triviality.

“We’re used to getting a ton of requests, the day to day necessities of public life,” Garland said. “We had a system for this before, Comcate.”

A benefit of SeeClickFix, Garland said, is that everyone has a smartphone with a camera, and it’s easier to submit service requests.

However, he couldn’t say if the new platform and it’s ease-of-use have facilitated an increase in service requests. City officials aren’t planning to do a look-back evaluation until July, after just over six months of use of SeeClickFix.

Garland also squashed any suggestion that the transparency of SeeClickFix might prompt staffers to respond quickly to submitted tickets, but with only half-measures that don’t solve the underlying problem.

“We’re used to getting 2,000 requests per year,” he said. “For example, with potholes, the supervisor for streets collects them all and batches them for service on the day they fix potholes.”

The public works department, Garland explained, is trying to take a step forward on computerized maintenance systems, and SeeClickFix is only part of it. The enterprise asset management system Lucity is another part.

“That represents the best practices in public works,” Garland said. “It should be fully rolled-out by June. That’ll be huge for us in terms of going from pre-computer age to fully computerized system.”

The public works department has to respond to internal requests from other city departments as well; those internal requests would move to Lucity.

Garland laments, however, that residents aren’t yet taking full advantage of SeeClickFix. It includes a voting feature that people aren’t using. Public works could be prioritizing on potholes and sidewalk cracks based on votes from the public, if people would only vote.

Also, in general, Garland would like to see more people using SeeClickFix. The city still gets a number of service requests by telephone, only to have a staffer enter it into SeeClickFix.

The platform, Garland said, shortens the time from a request to getting it in the hands of a maintenance worker to fix. And it makes it easier for residents to track service requests.

“Most people probably don’t know they could go online to do this. They think they need to call. But there’s no better person to enter it into SeeClickFix than the person reporting the issue,” he said.

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