I admit I am no graphic designer, as can be seen from the picture above, however I do try to come up with ideas which either saves money, enables more engagement with the community, or enables the City to provide a more efficient service. I think my latest idea is a doozy and ticks all those boxes.
I want to see the City of Bayswater develop a mobile app – ‘Report It’.
As webopedia tell us, “Mobile applications usually help users by connecting them to internet services more commonly accessed on desktop or notebook computers, or help them by making it easier to use the Internet on their portable devices.” That’s it, they don’t have to be fancy or over-complicated; they just need to enable interaction with the City which is normally otherwise limited to a desktop computer.
The actual app I propose, and will be attempting to get approval for at the next council meeting, is very simple. You…
- Open the app,
- Press the topic you wish to report (eg graffiti),
- The app will automatically open the camera function and you take a picture of the graffiti,
- Press send and your GPS location and the picture of graffiti is sent to email@example.com (for example).
This app will allow users to connect with the City on a number of different issues in a quick and efficient manner. The genesis for ‘Report It’ came late last year when I thought the City of Bayswater was about to embrace, and implement, a tree planting program. Driving around I kept seeing vacant areas where trees should be and decided the solution was an app which allows me to take a photo (or stand at the location) and send my GPS co-ordinates to the City with a request to plant a tree at that spot. As I also receive communication from concerned residents about footpaths being blocked or damaged I thought that should be included as well (infrastructure). The graffiti topic was from my personal experience of the time consuming process to report some graffiti I came across – have to log on to the personal computer, search the City’s website for graffiti reporting, send an email with details of where the graffiti is etc.
That said, unfortunately I no longer think the ‘plant a tree’ topic is suitable as it may lead to an inundation of requests from those who think the City should increase the tree stock (including me) and this will clog the system up. The topics I have in the picture are purely examples, I propose to leave it to the staff to ascertain the most appropriate topics. These may include rubbish dumping, flooding and similar.
In addition to enabling greater and easier communication with the City, there will also be some decent cost savings. An example of this is when a resident contacted me about an uneven footpath in Morley. I went and met with the resident so he could show me the issue. I then informed the City about the issue and they sent someone down to have a look. They then sent the work-crew down to fix it. With the ‘Report It’ app a user will easily be able to take a picture of the damage, or a pot hole on a road, and send it to the City. The City can then decide whether it needs to be fixed and how it needs to be fixed and then send the work crew there with the right tools and equipment. This will lead to a more rapid service, increased productivity and increased efficiency.
Whilst I acknowledge that many in our community don’t have smart phones or may not feel comfortable using ‘apps’, I feel there are thousands who would. And the potential number of users will keep increasing with time. From my research, the cost of creating a simple app like this would be under $5,000. The benefits so exceed the cost that at first I thought of it as a business idea and how I could have it built and then licence it to numerous local governments. Instead I decided the City of Bayswater could have that benefit and I hope they consider offering a ‘white label‘ version, for a fee, to other local governments in order to help alleviate rate rise pressures. If, as I expect, and the app proves popular, then down the track it can include many more features such as bin days.
Please feel free to let me know your thoughts and whether you could see yourself utilising the ‘Report It’ app.
Power to the People.
(Please be aware that these views are my own and have not been endorsed by the City of Bayswater)