Since 2005, Cityworks has been managing infrastructure and other assets throughout Grand Rapids. In 2010, the City chose to develop a citizen engagement tool to facilitate interaction between citizens and government services. With GRCity311 available to residents as a downloadable smartphone app, citizens can request specific services and register issues and complaints. At City Hall, GRCity311 logs requests and manages the distribution to the appropriate city department using Cityworks’ service request.
“In a typical scenario, a citizen captures a service request with GRCity311 using the native GPS functionality on their mobile device,” says Joe Bennet, GIS Administrator at Grand Rapids. “That report makes its way into Cityworks with coordinates, allowing us to visualize the data in Cityworks and our ArcGIS environment. What’s powerful about GRCity311 is that it enables us to bring citizens into the process. Enterprise GIS has been around for decades, but with the emergence of new mobile and Web technologies, we’re seeing it collide with the Geoweb.”
In recent months, the use of GRCity311 has had a dramatic effect on snow removal. When a snowstorm is imminent, Grand Rapids is able to add Snow Removal to the list of available services that appear on the mobile app and web interface. Citizens can effortlessly notify the city of unplowed streets, sidewalks and other potentially dangerous situations. Yet, while GRCity311 is primarily targeted to citizens, some of its “power users” are city employees.
“We have Police Officers who submit reports regularly while on patrol,” states Robert Coe, IT Director at Grand Rapids. “They know first-hand what can happen when certain issues go unattended. Increasing their accessibility to other agencies has been beneficial.”
“Spot Reporters gives us the flexibility to promote usage around service issues we can handle,” said Coe. “In fact, the app has actually helped identify areas in need of operational improvement by bringing transparency to the system. Grand Rapids can’t afford to be in the software development business, so we look to established vendors like Cityworks and Connected Bits to build and maintain applications. Their experience with other customers is a big part of what makes our technology program successful.”
“Citizen engagement apps like the one powered by Spot Reporters are fast becoming mainstream,” states Brian Haslam, President of Azteca Systems. “There’s no question that crowd sourcing is a powerful force. Combined with strong work management and permitting solutions like Cityworks Server AMS and PLL, the power to communicate quickly and accurately with constituents allows organizations to operate much more efficiently and effectively. We wholly support the notion of government transparency and citizen involvement, having designed and built Cityworks around that same paradigm.”
About Grand Rapids
The City of Grand Rapids, Michigan, serves a population of approximately 200,000 people with a municipal area of 46 square miles. The City is also a regional provider of water, wastewater, storm water and other public services to a number of municipalities in the Kent and Ottawa Counties, serving a population of approximately 280,000 and covering 137 square miles of service area.
About Connected Bits
Connected Bits is the developer of Spot Reporters, a mobile reporting application that enables governments and other organizations to “deputize” their communities to report issues – from potholes to power outages – using mobile devices and the web. Founded in 2003, Connected Bits has worked with major players in the mobile ecosystem including AT&T, Motorola, HTC, Microsoft, and France Telecom. Connected Bits partnered with the City of Boston to develop and launch one of the country’s first mobile 311 services in 2009. Spot Reporters has since been adopted by tens of thousands of mobile users in several major cities. Find Connected Bits on the web at www.connectedbits.com.
The City of Grand Rapids, Michigan, has improved operations by integrating a mobile app, powered by Spot Reporters, with the City’s asset management system from Cityworks. Using the smartphone-enabled framework from Connected Bits, GRCity311 has increased levels of customer service and agency responsiveness for critical needs such as snow plowing