Longview to launch mobile service request system
Feb. 13, 2012 at 11 p.m.
Want to report a pothole on a street, litter along a road, or graffiti on a wall? Starting Wednesday, Longview residents will be able to do so directly from a smartphone.
The City of Longview is launching a mobile application and online service - CitySend - that enables residents to report and track service requests, city officials said Monday.
Using CitySend, residents can snap a photo or video of an issue, pinpoint the location on a map, and then submit the concern directly to the city. After the issue is submitted, residents are able to track the response.
"It will allow us to gain efficiency," Assistant City Manager Chuck Ewings said. "It is a new way to communicate."
Anyone can download the free smartphone application, city spokesman Shawn Hara said. It is being launched on iPhone, BlackBerry and Android devices. It will be available soon on Windows mobile devices, he said. Residents without smartphones can use an online version the city's website. The program will cost the city about $12,000 annually.
In addition to submitting and tracking their own requests, residents can also view reports for other people's requests, Hara said. The general public is not permitted to see the name of the person who submitted the complaint, keeping some anonymity to the system, he said.
To submit a request via the mobile application, residents pull up the app on their smartphone, then first select whether they want to submit a photo, video or audio.
They take the picture, video or audio, then select whether they want to use a map to pinpoint the location, submit an address or use their phone's GPS to find their current location, Justin Cure, geographic information systems manager, said.
They set the location, then select their issue. The city has a list of 35 to 40 categories for issue, such as "traffic signal," or residents can choose a category labeled "other" to report anything else, Cure said.
Residents then submit the request and are issued an ID with which to track the progress of the request, Cure said. The request is sent as a work order to the appropriate department. The city expects to see a spike in requests at the beginning and is prepared to handle that, he said.
"When someone calls in a service request, we don't always have a clear idea of how big the issue is or what exactly needs to be done until we get to the site," City Manager David Willard said. "With CitySend though, we can receive a picture and location of the concern in advance, which should be helpful in managing the response."
For example, the city could see how much it will need to pick up with a bulky item pickup request via the application and can plan for how much space and employees will be needed to complete the job, Ewings said. Likewise, if a request is "frivolous," the city will be able to tell by the picture and will not have to send an employee out to survey the request, he said.
Corpus Christi is the only other city in Texas currently offering the service via California-based developer CitySourced, Hara said. The mobile application, CitySend, also has a news feature that provides updates of City of Longview news and public notices.
"Customer service is very important for the city of Longview," Mayor Jay Dean said, "and we are hopeful that this can be a great tool for our residents."