How 4 Cities are Improving Service with Mobile and Web Technology

April 1, 2015 8:54 am PST | Data as a Service

By Tucker Severson, SeeClickFix

At SeeClickFix, we get the chance to work with a lot of amazing cities, who are doing some seriously impressive things with technology. Here are few examples of how cities are leveraging mobile and web tools in particular, in order to improve the quality of service for constituents.

Detroit, MI : Lean and Open

Detroit is going through an exciting transformation these days. Led by Mayor Duggan and his team of public and private sector experts, the City is rebuilding many of the processes and tools to provide the efficiency and flexibility necessary for a community in a period of economic change. Two philosophies at the heart of this change are Lean Methodology and open data.

Lean Methodology gives Detroit a communication and development process to reduce waste by building systems with iterative feedback loops. One example of how Detroit is leveraging Lean, is in deploying SaaS solutions like SeeClickFix to customer service officials and field staff. SaaS gives Detroit the scalability and flexibility it needs to grow.

In order to incorporate feedback loops into City process and build a more informed and transparent system, Detroit is utilizing open data. The Detroit open data portal allows constituents to quickly and easier access data from a wide variety of sources in a format that easier digestible both by people and APIs. Citizen engagement is another way that Detroit is enabling open data. Detroit is using SeeClickFix to engage citizens to report quality of like concerns in their neighborhoods. Citizens can then follow the progress of these issues — conversing publicly with neighbors and city officials alike and getting automatic updates once the issues have been resolved.

New Haven, CT : Improving Accessibility

New Haven needed a way to efficiently and effectively engage with its citizens. The City was receiving a variety of phone calls and walk-ins, with citizens reporting everything from potholes and graffiti to high grass and light outages. New Haven had attempted to improve the efficiency of the reporting process by adding self-serve forms to the city website. However, no one was using the forms. Management wanted a more efficient way to engage with these citizens and route requests to the right destinations.

To address these concerns, New Haven deployed a custom mobile application and request management system to allow for easy issue reporting as well as access to a wide range of information and web services. Inbound requests are channeled into the SeeClickFix request management platform, where City officials are able to engage with citizens, route requests to the correct departments and run reports.

Houston, TX : Maximizing Efficiency

The Houston 311 call center serves the City’s 2.1 million citizens 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With 30,000 service requests coming in each month, improvements in efficiency had the potential to save the City large amounts of money. Furthermore, efficiency improvements would also enhance the level of service that the call center was able to deliver to its citizens. In order to improve efficiency and service quality, Houston was looking for a self-serve method for citizens to submit requests into Houston 311 easily and accurately.

In addition to efficiency and service quality improvements, Houston also needed a means to promote the brand of its 311 call center. Citizen understanding and usage of the service was paramount to the success of the program.

To address these concerns, Houston 311 deployed a citizen-focused mobile app for iPhone and Android devices. The Houston 311 mobile app allows citizens to quickly and easily submit service requests from anywhere. These requests are submitted with all the relevant information needed by the call center including: location, category, secondary questions, and user information for subsequent follow ups. The app also allows citizens to find and follow existing requests in their neighborhoods—increasing engagement and reducing redundant submissions.

Albany, NY : Decentralized Call Center

Albany needed a way to route citizen requests to the appropriate departments. The City did not have the bandwidth or budget to justify a centralized call center, but still wanted to provide a high level of customer support to its citizens. Albany needed a way to connect the customer service representatives that were spread out throughout the city.

Albany deployed a citizen reporting tools alongside a hosted request management platform for City support. When a citizen submits a request using the Albany mobile application, that request is forwarded directly to a customer support specialist that can route the request correctly and communicate instructions and expectations back to the citizens. Of course, many citizens are still calling in to these separate departments to report issues. In these cases, the decentralized service reps are able to enter request information into the City’s centralized request management software directly. This gives service reps platform level information and gives managers city-wide data in real time.

Want more? Download the Getting Started with Open Data Guide.

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