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City of Longivew deems smartphone app success; users agree

By Richard Yeakley
Sept. 4, 2013 at 11 p.m.

A smartphone application used by the city for the past 19 months has been hailed a success by the city and the people who use it.

The digital service request system CitySend has been used more than 1,600 times since it was <a href="http://www.news-journal.com/news/local/longview-to-launch-mobile-service-request-system/article_82a3193c-d7f8-5f94-8c5f-97fe0d5ef514.html" target="_blank">launched in February 2012</a>, by people who reported limbs down, high grass, potholes, graffiti and a host of other woes.

At an annual cost of $12,000, CitySend allows residents to report and track service requests.

By downloading the app on their phones, residents can snap a photo or video of an issue, pinpoint the location on a map and submit their concern directly to the city with a smartphone.

It was granted continued funding in the city's fiscal year 2013-14 budget approved Aug. 29 by the City Council.

"It is a convenience for the citizen, because they don't need to know what department to contact, they just need to know that if they have a problem to tell us," said city spokesman Shawn Hara. "If you see something, let us know and we can try to address it."

While the number of uses pales in comparison to cost - about $10 per report based on the current rate of usage - Hara said the benefits the program gives are worthwhile.

"Yes, people could pick up a phone book and submit a request, but it (CitySend reports) goes directly into our work management systems, it works with the system we have," Hara said.

A large benefit of CitySend is that it helps meet a growing expectation for mobile interaction, Hara said.

The program also gives city of Longview staff better information about a concern than a traditional phone call might.

"The other piece really is in terms of the value, better information coming in," Hara said. "We will have a photo of the problem, and that is a huge benefit."

The program also gives the city of Longview the global positioning coordinates of the cellphone from which the request was sent when it was sent in."

Kevin Atkinson, who lives on Kate Street, has used the service several times to alert the city of the need for a bulky item pickup.

"I think that it is worth (the money)," Atkinson said. "With our smartphone technology it is one more thing that we are able to do, without having to actually speak to a person. You can do it 24/7. As long as it is not something that is costing an exorbitant amount to maintain, I think it is worth it."

Atkinson, who requested limbs be picked up in front of his home on July 23 via CitySend, said the best feature of the program is that it can be used any time.

"I had posted my last request for pick up way after city hours, but they accepted it, and they sent me a message back saying they did accept," Atkinson said.

Of the 1,664 times the technology has been used since its launch, five types of requests have logged more than 100 submissions.

CitySend users have reported potholes 225 times, bulky item pickup for limbs 191 times, traffic signals 136 times, illegal signs 133 times and general requests 107 times.

Requests have climbed slightly since the program was launched. February, March and April 2012, the first three months of the program, saw 71, 88 and 62 requests submitted to the city through CitySend respectively; while, June, July and August of 2013 saw 106, 70 and 110 requests submitted through the program.

The city was recently recognized for its program by the Texas Association of Government Information Technology Managers.

Longview was given the "Excellence Award" for its implementation of the program.



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