In a few weeks, Auburn residents who spot a broken sidewalk or a busted streetlight during their morning walks will be able to report the issues directly to the appropriate city employee in as much time as it takes to read the first few sentences of this article.
A new app, called Auburn FixIt, developed by the city of Auburn's IT Department, will provide a way for residents to be active in the repair process for items in their neighborhoods and will speed up that process through which repairs are made.
"It’s a tool for the citizens to report really any kind of nonemergency request," said Chris Graff, deputy chief information officer for the city. "If (a resident) has seen roadkill or graffiti or a pothole or streetlights out, or any of that kind of stuff, they would submit it through that app, and that app would drop it straight into our work order management system. ... It lets us be more responsive and communicate much more tightly with citizens."
Graff added that the software will drop the reported item into the work order system of the individual who could best address it.
"The software is intelligent enough to know which department and division within that department and which individual within that division should be working on this, and it’ll drop it straight into the inbox they’re using on a daily basis," he said.
The city is aiming to launch the free app for both Android and Apple users some time in mid- to late-November, and once launched, will host open sessions for community members who want to be guided through how to use the app. The app will also be accessible through a webpage, for those who prefer desktops over cell phones.
Upon downloading the app, residents will be prompted to create a user account. Then, to report an issue, users will follow the steps to do so after clicking "Create a New Request" on the home screen. When making a report, users can use their current location or pinpoint the location of the issue on a map, categorize the issue and type comments about it. They can also upload a photo before submitting.
Brett Johnson, project manager, said the app will alert the resident if the issue they are trying to report is not within the city's jurisdiction.
The app will also include useful resources, like links to pay your garbage or water bills, FAQs, quick access to the city's downtown parking app and other things.
"We're building it to be more than just a way to report a concern and trying to get as much interaction in one location for the citizen," Johnson said.
Creating Auburn FixIt has been on the IT Department's to-do list for more than five years, but before connecting the public to its work order management software, the city first needed to implement it internally.
"The process of getting that work order management system across city departments was probably a five- to six-year endeavor, and we’re finally at a point that its touching all the major business units within the city," Graff said. "We always had the idea to do this, but wanted all our departments to be using the employee side of the software first."
Having residents as active participants in the software will help the city maintain its infrastructure.
"We certainly do rely on community input," Graff said. "There's more eyes and ears out in the city than those of the city employees. Everyone working together on this certainly helps us find and address issues much quicker."