Mobile technology is changing the way people communicate and engage with their community. As a result, cities, one by one, are starting to capitalize on this new trend by developing mobile apps and tools to meet the demands and interests of their savvy constituents. One city in-particular is experiencing this transformation first hand.
The City of Plano, Texas has been revolutionizing the way its community works together to resolve city-related concerns via it's Fix It Plano app. The city enlisted the help of PublicStuff to develop a mobile app and service request system in July, 2011 and branded the system Fix It Plano. The app allows residents to report and submit city-related requests in real time from anywhere. Requests, normally centered on maintenance issues, are sent directly to the correct city department to be resolved. Since launching Fix It Plano in July 2011, the city has closed out more than 1,489 service requests. But what's truly fascinating is that half of those requests focused on water-related issues.
Why? Well when Fix It Plano was first introduced, like many other North Texas cities, Plano was under outdoor watering restrictions. A water supply issue related to an invasive species of Zebra Mussels in the cities main water supply, was compounding its drought issues after a dry, hot summer, that extended into the fall. In October, water concerns heightened as the city prepared to move into enhanced Stage 3 Water Restrictions on Nov. 1, taking residents from once- a-week watering to once-every-other-week watering. From the beginning of these heightened restrictions, residents were eager to continue their participation in water conservation efforts. City phones were buzzing with reports of wasteful watering practices and unscheduled watering. It became obvious as restrictions tightened; Fix It Plano could divert this barrage of additional calls into a more unified system. On Oct. 12, a City press release announced watering violations could now be reported via Fix It Plano. In the 19 days that followed 71 water violations were reported.
Nancy Nevil, Plano’s director of sustainability and environmental services said, “Our residents are very technologically savvy and Fix It Plano was a tool that empowered them to be involved in the solution of saving as much water as possible. More important than violations, they reported water leaks, broken sprinklers and other water-related issues that required repair.”
As weather forecasters predict another grueling Texas summer, Fix It Plano will continue to support water conservation efforts in Plano. The Fix It Plano app is free to download and accessible via the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Blackberry and Android applications. Citizens may also submit services via telephone, through SMS text, and directly through the City’s website. To access any of the Fix It portals, please click on the links below.