SeeClickFix working with 311 Call Centers

Some cities with 311 Call Centers might have the knee-jerk reaction of resisting open-data platforms like SeeClickFix, even though it offers more transparency and better user experience. Yet our experience has been that many cities are willing to experiment with combining the utility of both systems. Consider this recent case from Chattanooga, TN.

A month ago, local blogger Jason Kelley was strolling around his neighborhood of Highland Park, when he spotted a house so blighted that not even Extreme Home Makeover could've saved it. He snapped a photo and posted a report on SeeClickFix. Chattanooga 311 immediately notified him that the city would take care of the problem.

before SeeClickFix,

and after SeeClickFix.

Yesterday, he stopped by the crumbling property to find that the city had ripped it out, from the foundation on up. It was gone without a trace.

"Imagine my surprise when I walked past the structure formerly known as 1003 S. Hickory St. [...] which I reported as 'House is barely standing ' should be considered for condemnation,' and the entire property was now gone!" Kelley wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.

Of the 17 issues he posted, 15 have already been fixed one month later. Kelley makes a great case for why SeeClickFix is useful even for cities that already have 311 Call Center, like Chattanooga:

"Anyone who's made at least a few calls has run into the inevitable difficulties of asking city employees over the phone to take a closer look at something they'd rather not have to deal with. Occasional long hold times, difficulty in tracking requests, and an inability to determine when certain issues have been dealt with all make the call center model hard to deal with."

A few years ago, the city's 311 model would have been top of the line. But in the age of web 2.0, it's a little dated."

We agree. The challenge is getting cities who already have 311 services to see things Kelley and our way. While Call Center workers might worry that SeeClickFix will create "more work" for them, there are ways that it could make their job easier.

If more people used SeeClickFix, it might make service request "rush hours" like lunchtime less stressful for call center workers. Rather than playing muzak, automated responses could direct callers who are waiting on hold to report their issue through SeeClickFix. Features like GPS and voting on issues to prioritize their fixing can help call centers and public works departments efficiently and accurately target pressing concerns.

Kelley points out that SeeClickFix is be useful for major issues where "community support would make a difference." And for many other issues, he writes that "nothing beats good, old-fashioned trash bags" deployed by conscientious citizens.

How do you think that cities with 311 Call Centers should adapt to new, Gov 2.0 technologies? Sends us your thoughts:

Check out Kelley's full blog post on the Chattanooga hyper-local site,