Last month, I posted about how Gateway Cities–Fall River and New Bedford in particular–are using the Commonwealth Connect app (to varying levels of efficacy) to notify city officials of issues like graffiti, potholes, and broken streetlights through the platform SeeClickFix. The gist of that post was to reflect on the fact that our neighboring cities have taken very different approaches to launching and using this handy tool. The gist of this post is to do my small part to inform blog readers about the workings of Commonwealth Connect and to encourage you to join me in using it! Here goes:
Why use it?
Reporting an issue with the app (or via SeeClickFix.org) is much better than ranting to someone else about that ever-growing pothole, and you’re even awarded “civic points” for doing so. This means instant gratification, plus the good vibes associated with civic engagement.
Smartphone users are best served by the app, Commonwealth Connect. [This was developed by the team behind the City of Boston's Citizens Connect application and has been made available to 40 Massachusetts municipalities through the state's Community Innovation Challenge Grant program.]
Once the app has been installed on your phone, you can register as a user or choose to report issues anonymously.
If you prefer to use the website instead, navigate to seeclickfix.org and either choose to register or click the ‘report an issue’ button to start fixing.
Reporting an issue
As a frequent walker and sometimes runner, nothing grinds my gears more than missing or faded crosswalks. In addition to their role in promoting pedestrian safety, I think of well-maintained crosswalks as an indicator of a city’s attentiveness to infrastructural and quality of life issues in general.
For the purposes of this post, I headed into my New Bedford neighborhood to find an example (shooting fish in a barrel would be comparatively challenging). First, I found an exemplar:
Just a few blocks from that, I found a much different scenario at an already chaotic intersection (where Allen Street, Orchard Street, and Dartmouth Street converge). Conveniently, a fellow was crossing the street when I approached, so I quickly opened up the app and clicked the ‘Report’ button. There’s a great option for taking and adding a photo, which is geotagged to pinpoint your current location. So that’s what I did:
Then I typed in a quick description of the issue:
A few parties have been automatically notified of my reported issue. Now, the ball is in the city’s court to respond by acknowledging the issue (letting the reporter and others know that it’s on the city’s radar) or, hopefully, fixing (and thus closing) the issue. New Bedford has not fixed an issue yet, but Fall River has. Here’s what it looks like when that happens:
I’ll be sure to write a follow-up post if and when one of my issues is addressed. Until then, I look forward to competing for civic points with my fellow New Bedfordians.