15 April 2010

iPhone App: reporting things to fix

Just spotted this application via iNews (see the original post here) - Lewisham have developed a phone application that allows people to easily report problems for the council to fix - such as potholes or instances of vandalism. You can find more information here. It has just been extended to all of London.

But why not an app to allow people to praise what a local authority, or NHS service or police unit is doing too?


  1. The problem with this is that the app just sends an email to the local authority and will be handled like any other email and disappear into the ether. This app (http://www.cityofboston.gov/mis/apps/iphone.asp) launched in the US six months ago integrates into the councils computer systems and even gives the user a reference number should the reporter want to call the council to chase up the issue; it also sends a notification to the iPhone when the issue has been resolved.

  2. Thank you Anonymous - that sounds much better! And there was I thinking that the Lewisham / London app did something similar. So come on the united Boroughs of London - let's do something even better than the yanks!

  3. Fix my street http://www.fixmystreet.com from MySociety is a national system which works out which council is responsible. This is particularly important in multi-tier areas, although it can't handle Highway Agency. It records the problem on a map and for all to see, informing others in the locality about the problem. It also sends a reminder every four weeks to the reporter to see it the problem have beemn resolved.

  4. Thanks Robert - that sounds better - but have the local authorities bought into it? Indeed - has it been evaluated and shown to be working? Are there any plans to convert it into an app?

  5. Jon, take a look at Barnet's website where they have ditched efforts to reinvent the wheel and have embedded Fixmystreet into their site. It does still just send an email but as far as quick wins for behaviour changing go it's better to offer the public something that encourages online usage than one which is frustrating to use. The hidden stuff should be second to that imo.

    As for the Applification of all things I'd far rather a service was provided in a mobile friendly format so that it could be used by any web connected device rather than something, admittedly shiny and lovely, that's available to a niche set of users...

    And in that respect Fixmystreet is great. It works well through mobile access and coupled to the use of #fixmytweet you get the mobile functionality with GPS locating and picture attached reporting from your mobile.

    So I guess what I'm saying is that in their efforts to produce a more efficient and effective process Lewisham have needlessly spent money on chasing trends and developing an iPhone app rather than embracing what civil society has already got up and running in the wild.

  6. Good points anonymous - thank you. Here is the link for anyone would like to check out the Barnet service:


  7. "Lewisham have needlessly spent money on chasing trends and developing an iPhone app "

    That sums up my concerns very well - too much focus on the technology (and niche markets in particular) and too little on real accessibility and maximising value for money

    "If you build it, he will come" is a unwarranted, high risk strategy

  8. Fair point - I am all for low tech solutions such as 'listening to people'!

  9. Update on the Barnet approach - here is another link: