In today’s trying times, municipalities are facing public pressures to optimize tax dollars and be transparent. So more than ever, finding solutions to do more with less is a top priority. CitySourced, a Cityworks Strategic Development Partner, helps mitigate some of these challenges through an innovative solution that connects citizens with city hall. CitySourced is an efficient, end-to-end integrated process for reporting public safety/quality of life issues and speedy resolution. CitySourced is a natural extension of Cityworks.
CitySourced delivers custom mobile reporting applications across all the major smartphone platforms (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, & Windows Phone 7). The apps leverage the camera and the GPS in the smartphone to capture a service request and send it directly into the Cityworks interface via a suite of RESTful APIs. This integration allows the reports that a resident creates to be automatically shuttled into the Cityworks interface as a service request. Following further investigation, a work order may be issued to remedy the situation. The system automatically pushes a status update back to the residents’ mobile phone with text message notifications. The result is a complete, full-circle communication loop between the municipality and its residents, as in the case at the City of Redlands, California.
Prior to February 2011, citizen issues were reported to the City of Redlands, California, in a variety of ways. Redlands’ Utilities, Quality of Life, and Police Departments would receive requests by telephone, voicemail, email, and letters. Their lack of a central collection point for receiving and logging reports led to inefficiencies that limited the city’s ability to deliver superior service, leaving residents frustrated and angry about issues that remained unaddressed.
With a constant eye out for solutions to optimize workflow, Redlands discovered CitySourced at the 2010 Esri User Conference. The city engaged CitySourced to implement their application for the city’s residents. Redlands had always envisioned creating a 3-1-1 solution, but never had the resources to do so. Yet with CitySourced, Redlands was able to take that first step towards putting a complete 3-1-1 call center into place.
The app was targeted to accomplish two objectives: (1) to standardize a data collection process, and (2) to engage those groups of residents who communicate through smartphones.
“The integration was very straightforward and was much easier and faster than we’re used to, primarily due to the SaaS nature of the products,” explained Dan Hexem, CIO for the City of Redlands, California. “In phase one, our staff manually entered the CitySourced issues into Cityworks. After the two systems were integrated, we have been able to leverage CitySourced’s API, and the Cityworks Service Request API which has eliminated much of the manual processing currently being done. This integration frees up staff to perform other core functions of the city and reduces dual data entry. Looking to the future, now that we’re integrated with Cityworks, we are launching an internal “Channel Shift” strategy that will move the service requests from over the counter, phone, and email into the mobile channel.”
The City of Redlands has been live with CitySourced for six months, and has been able to reach those residents who have never interacted with their city government before. With over 50 report types to choose from, the most common reports the city receives from residents are for graffiti, streetlights, potholes, overgrown trees/plants, and illegal dumping/trash. Redlands is also looking to leverage internal/code enforcement type cases, which has encouraged the Redlands Police Department to experiment with the app in order to monitor illegally parked cars.
“We’re now able to respond to issues immediately,” Hexem continues. “With phase one we’ve had about 400 service requests come through the system over the past 6 months. People have had a good experience with the app because they see that someone actually monitors the system and follows through on the resolution. Overall, our response times have been at the level of expectation of our residents.”
The cost for agencies to respond to residents is expensive. CitySourced is helping agencies execute a fundamental shift in how they engage citizens. In a study by Garner Research (2009), the following clearly illustrates the benefits of web-based, self-service solutions for citizens:
- $9 Traditional over the counter visit to city offices
- $5 Live phone call with city agent
- $3 Email transaction
- $1 Web-based self service transacation
This illustrates the cost of customer service representatives logging a request for service. With CitySourced being an automated, machine-to-machine transaction, the reduction and eventual elimination of an agencies manual processing of requests will yield substantial benefits in the future and yield a cost per transaction down to the pennies.
Los Angeles-based CitySourced is currently working with Cityworks clients around the country including Escondido, Calif.; Glendale Calif.; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Longview, Tex.; Columbia County, Ga.; Harford County, Md.; and Redlands, Calif. CitySourced builds and maintains all of the mobile applications, and delivers the middleware as a hosted “Software as a Service” (SaaS) or as an on-premise appliance.
By David Hexem, CIO for Redlands, California; Kurt Daradics, President, CitySourced; and Emily Palizzi, Staff Writer, Azteca Systems, Inc. — Cityworks