City of New Haven, CT: Parks Department

population: 130,000+

Nearly every town and city across the country has open spaces and parks managed by municipal or county staff. Dedicated rangers, maintenance crews, and administrative staff need a way to manage resources, track issues and requests, and keep these places safe and clean.

In New Haven, CT, Rebecca Bombero serves as the Director of the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Trees. New Haven is 21 square miles and 20% of the land area is in her domain — including all the trees on city streets. But she has a limited budget, so she needs robust, smart tools. That’s why Bombero manages her staff and park property with SeeClickFix.

Need
  • To collect, locate, and address issues reported by citizens and staff
  • To track Parks staff and road crews efficiently
  • To leverage public support to promote parks and open spaces
  Solution
  • Mobile apps and web tools that allowed citizens to report issues with pictures, videos, and descriptions
  • Mapping tools that capture geolocation of issues
  • Work order management system for both printed work orders and field apps for their work crews
  • Ability to assign individuals or crews tasks and track those tasks to completion
  • Internal reporting of issues found while on the road
  • Automatic data collection of time taken to fix issues, close out questions to record supplies, etc.
  • Public platform to communicate back and keep citizens engaged on parks events, programming, and camps
  Citizen Engagement and Reporting

  Bombero manages over 100 open spaces ranging in size from blocks to sections of state parks, for a total 2,200 acres, and a her seasonally fluctuating staff of 27 - 60.  Bombero and the department primarily use SeeClickFix to collect reported issues from residents about trees, trash, broken features, graffiti, and even overgrown paths. These notifications cut down on the amount of time rangers have to walk trails to ensure proper operation, the city residents become her eyes and ears.

Rangers spent time checking trails for issues, it took a lot of time and energy to do a check, then return to the station to get the tools needed to fix a found problem. Using the eyes and ears of citizens walking the trails meant changing what rangers did from park checks to park maintenance.
 
“A pothole is easy. A streetlight is easy. A parks request can be anything. You know we get ‘there’s trash in East Rock Park’ so, great, where? That mapping an issue saves us. Being able to ask, ‘hey David, where on the white trail?’ keeps us from going on a wild goose chase.”
-Becky Bombero, City of New Haven Parks Department Director

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“We have everything, from beach to forest, gardens to cliffs and rivers. Managing that much diverse land is a challenge. SeeClickFix helps with keeping these areas clean, leveraging the community and with staff spread across the city, it keeps us up to date from department office to range station to being on the trail. All of our assets are linked to a lot of data and it’s hard to manage that, impossible to do it on paper or without tools.”
-Becky Bombero, City of New Haven Parks Department Director
  Garnering citizen input through SeeClickFix has expanded the ability of the New Haven Parks Department to leverage information about volunteer opportunities and spread information about events.

The neighborhood “Friends of Parks” groups will flag issues for the Parks Department during their park clean up days about larger maintenance issues, and the Department is using SeeClickFix reports to target areas that need park cleanups. With numerous reports, it becomes easy to see hot spot areas of need and point those volunteers in that direction or towards those trails. In addition, the department also uses SeeClickFix to let residents know about events in these parks including private uses, summer camps, and festivals. Recently, Bombero has increasingly relied on SeeClickFix to help crowdsource new ideas to her to make her department better and provide programming that citizens want.

  Work Order Management / Internal reporting

  Bombero also uses SeeClickFix for internal reporting and tracking, work order management, supervising workflow, managing tickets. Staff at the maintenance department manage all the calls that come in, and enter that data into the same system. The call taker interface ensure the same uniform data is recorded on all requests and connects phone callers to issues by gather emails -- those residents get updates along the way as the problem is being addressed.
 
“[SeeClickFix] launched private issues this week and I’m very excited about that. Internal commenting helps keep us straight. We use some secondary questions, make sure information is collected that we need to solve a problem. A pothole is easy. A streetlight is easy. A parks request can be anything. You know we get ‘there’s trash in East Rock Park’ so, GREAT, where? That mapping saves us. Being able to ask, ‘Hey David, where on the white trail?’ keeps us from going on a wild goose chase.”
-Becky Bombero, City of New Haven Parks Department Director

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If it’s categorized as a parks request, if it’s in a park, they will receive the request get it. And they work very well with other departments. If it’s in another department’s purview, Bombero can have confidence they will do what they need to do. Internal commenting makes that audit trail a little easier.

“The line between school property and park property often blurs when we have fields next to schools, sometimes there is confusion over who maintains that. SeeClickFix helps clear up those spaces and creates internal understandings of what to do and by whom.” 
-Becky Bombero, City of New Haven Parks
 
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In addition, Bombero is moving towards layering each park so they can track these areas well. Currently, they use the geographic boundaries of neighborhoods and alder districts to help show the alders (city council members) what’s going on.