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Blog

St. Albert Releases "Spruce It Up" App!

Julie Ramaccia

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 3.50.36 PM.png

In April, the City of St. Albert publicly launched SeeClickFix to almost 61,000 residents.

Within the first month of the launch, we saw tremendous resident and municipal engagement. Since then, we have been working with the City of St. Albert to develop their branded app “Spruce It Up!”

The City released the Spruce It Up app this week, which offers an expanded selection of service requests. A recent news release notes:

The upgraded system provides two-way communication by enabling City staff to send timely and helpful advisories to residents who are using the application. The new version also expands the scope of issues reported to include St. Albert Transit.

Residents are encouraged to download the new mobile app, available on iPhone and Android. They can also report issues on this City’s website.

Respect the Honeybee

Isabel Santos-Gonzalez

Bees. They seem to at once inspire awe and terror amongst the general population, sentiments reflected in a collection of bee-centric SCF reports we have gathered. It would appear that most individuals submit reports about bees because of public safety concerns: hive located on fire call box, hive underneath pedestrian walk signal, swarm in front of residence. However, a resolution to these reports is not as simple as hive removal. The bees must be treated with utmost care, and many residents chimed in on bee-related post to communicate their opinions to city officials and other community members.

"Beehive in fire call box"

  • "Bees are an important part of our environment, so I'm hoping that this issue was handled by an experienced beekeeper...do you have listings of beekeepers?" 
  • "Very true! I don't want them to kill off the bees, not at all. Just get someone who knows what they are doing to resolve the issue. There is an NYC beekeeping association, I just contacted them to see what they can suggest. 

"Anyone missing some bees?"

  • "Do you know what happened to them? Bees are very docile when swarming and just looking for a place to live." 
  • "I hope they find a new home. Are people paying attention to the news regarding bees and pesticides/chemicals/herbicides? We have plenty of bees here - white clover in the lawn, plants, trees, and no chemicals. But bees must be finding it difficult to find natural, healthy, chemical-free places to live."

"Beehive"

  • "If they're honey bees, I think they should be left alone. As many of us know, there is a shortage of honey bees, we don't need to be making it worse by getting rid of more of them..."

"Bees"

  • "Swarming bees present no problems to the public if you just leave them alone or call a beekeeper...if swarming they will be gone in a day or two..."
A beehive on a fire department call box on Roosevelt Island, NY. 

A beehive on a fire department call box on Roosevelt Island, NY. 

Multiple commenters touched upon a key point: the honeybee population, which pollinates approximately $15 billion worth of produce in the United States each year, is in decline. Pesticides, especially neonicotinoid, are the largest threat to bees. As such, retailers like Home Depot and BJ's Wholesale have taken steps to distinctly label plants that have already been treated with the harmful pesticide so that individuals do not unknowingly purchase and plant harmful vegetation. Eugene, OR elected to ban products that contain neonicotinoid from city properties (parks, schools etc.) and other may soon follow their lead. That's certainly a change we can get behind! 

You can read more about bees and the pesticide crisis here and here

"Albany Works 4 U"

Isabel Santos-Gonzalez

The City of Albany launched its custom app "Albany Works 4 U" in May 2013 to empower and engage residents. 

A more user-friendly city website coupled with the power of SeeClickFix gives our citizens the online and mobile reporting capabilities to voice their concerns about a variety of city issues through easy-to-use categories, while also ensuring each city department is equipped with the best information possible to help resolve these concerns. I am proud that Albany is the first major city in New York State to adopt the SeeClickFix platform, and I look forward to its positive results in our community.
— Mayor Jennings

In the time since Albany has launched, the average number of days to close a report has drastically decreased and the number of resident-initiated requests has grown. We pulled the following information from our program, Insight. 

It currently takes the city an average of 3.5 days to close a report. 

It currently takes the city an average of 3.5 days to close a report. 

The vast majority of reports in Albany's system have been addressed. Closed reports are automatically archived after seven days. 

The vast majority of reports in Albany's system have been addressed. Closed reports are automatically archived after seven days. 

The number of resident requests (amalgamation of iPhone, web, map widget, Android reports) has spiked to close to 80% of issues submitted. As the number of resident reports has increased the number of city initiated reports has decreased. 

The number of resident requests (amalgamation of iPhone, web, map widget, Android reports) has spiked to close to 80% of issues submitted. As the number of resident reports has increased the number of city initiated reports has decreased. 

A real life Twitter exchange inspired this post. 

Water Conservation - A Municipal Approach

Ryan Mannion

It is now illegal for any Californian to hose down a driveway or sidewalk, or allow landscape irrigation to flood off their property.
— sacbee.com

The drought in California is reaching “exceptional” levels according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Municipalities across the state are attempting to decrease water usage in a number of ways: cities are issuing fines and instituting public awareness campaigns. As of last Tuesday (8/19/2014), the state can now fine residents $500 per day for infractions like washing cars or letting excess water from landscaping run into the street. These new regulations help ensure that people and crops in the region have enough water. However, educating the public and identifying violators can be a complicated and expensive task. 

Cities and water districts affected by this drought have used our software to send educational notifications and capture real time, crowdsourced location data of water waste. It's a multi-layered approach to water conservation supported entirely within one platform.

The City of Corona leveraged SCF software by creating a special service request category called “Water Conservation” with 8 unique answers. These answers describe the type of water waste (below) the citizen has encountered. Location, description, image/video and time are all captured in the reports to assist in planning and resolution of the report. In the past three years, there has been a notable increase in water conservation reports, mirroring the ongoing drought in California. Raising awareness and tracking current violations are essential to preserving the increasingly scarce water supply throughout the Western United States.

Resident Alerts City of Dunwoody to Stormwater Problem

Isabel Santos-Gonzalez

This is what it's all about: a Dunwoody, GA resident noticed a problematic stormwater issue in the midst of heavy rains and submitted a report on SCF. The Public Works Stormwater division received an immediate notification through SCF and soon discovered that there was a larger problem with the pipes located belowground. One particular pipe had almost rusted away completely, which created the beginnings of a void underneath the roadway. To make matters worse, this problem was located on a heavily traveled road in the Dunwoody area: Mt. Vernon Rd. The city mobilized crews to fix the problem quickly and efficiently. Crisis averted. 

You can read an excerpt from article below and can check out the full article on The Dunwoody Crier's website. 

It was determined work would begin on a Friday evening, after most rush hour commuters had travelled the area.  Once assembled, crews worked meticulously through the night to avoid other utilities and carefully excavate the deteriorated corrugated metal.  The old stormwater conveyance was replaced with a new reinforced concrete pipe with an estimated lifespan of 60-plus years. 

The efficient and skilled work of the stormwater repair crew enabled this project to wrap up a full 24-hours ahead of schedule. 

The city’s stormwater department is committed to the continued management, support, and repair of Dunwoody’s stormwater infrastructure.  The city completed a survey of the storm water infrastructure system in 2011, identifying 10,588 structures, and 11,407 conveyances. The study found the majority of these structures are close to 40+ years old and ready for replacement. 

“While we are aware of numerous stormwater pipe replacement needs throughout the city, the rapid deterioration of this segment of pipe was brought to our attention because of an alert citizen who noticed standing water in the area,” said Storm Water Manager David Elliot. “Residents are key to letting us know when an issue has developed, enabling us to fix it quickly, before it becomes a larger problem and possible safety issue.  Due to the age of our infrastructure and the construction materials used at that time that Dunwoody was developed, similar problems to the one encountered on Mount Vernon Road are not uncommon.” 

Additional projects are planned through the end of 2015.  Continued assessments by the City and public involvement will help to identify other areas in need of repair or replacement in the future.