Revamp of City of Flint Problem Spotter Makes it Easier for Residents to Use, Improves Data Tracking for Employees

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The City of Flint Department of Public Works’ Problem Spotter online reporting feature has undergone a renovation that makes it easier for residents to use while also improving how employees collect and track data on issues. Problem Spotter launched with the City’s new website at the beginning of this year as a way for residents to report issues found around the city and in their neighborhoods. With improved and added features, the system is set to become an integral part of how issues are handled and how citizens are engaged in the process.

Issues such as water main breaks, downed trees, missing or broken traffic signals and potholes can be reported by citizens through the system which features an interactive map and the option of posting pictures for city employees’ reference in the field. On the interactive map, citizens can see that their issue has been received by the City and track the status on a daily basis. By clicking on each map icon, users can see what type of issue it is, the status of the issue, estimated resolution date and even estimated cost of the resolution.

The issue map includes other information such as ward boundaries with relevant information on City Councilpersons, Planning Commissioners and Zoning Board of Appeals members. Users will now have the ability to look ahead on the Capital Improvement Projects map to see where upcoming work will be done and the source documentation for each project. Project dates, cost and timeframe are also included.

In addition to being a user friendly, interactive way for citizens to become involved in improvements to City of Flint infrastructure, the new system also allows employees to collect data on issues to better correlate issues by date, area and cost. Using GPS enabled tablets, employees in the field will be able to load data on issues as they review them, giving them the ability to report the issue and its resolution instantaneously. By analyzing the data from Problem Spotter, DPW will have the ability to spot trends in issues which will allow them to look at ways of identifying areas of future concern.

“Part of the vision statement for the Flint Public Works Department includes ‘using all available technology to maintain the City’s above and underground infrastructure’, so it’s exciting for us to take this significant step forward in technology that will provide better transparency, communication, and accountability across the board,” said Howard Croft, Director of Public Works. “The implementation of this feature has taken a huge commitment by the city staff and employees and will give us the increased ability to make data driven decisions and better track outstanding issues.”

The system is based upon the ESRI ArcGIS mapping platform and was developed to the specifications of the City of Flint by ESRI; more information can be found at http://www.esri.com/software/arcgis. Development of the improved system cost $11,400 and was budgeted in the previous fiscal year (FY15). The system has the ability to grow to include reporting for other issues, such as blight and street light outages, allowing other departments the ability to follow and map their specific concerns. The improved Problem Spotter was formally introduced to City Council during the Public Works Committee meeting held Wednesday, August 19, 2015. It can be found under the Online Services tab.

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Kristin Moore

About the Author:

Kristin Moore is the Public Information/Communications Director for the City of Flint. She spent years working as a TV news reporter and anchor in and outside of Michigan. A Flint native, Kristin is excited to now be part of the team working to move Flint forward!
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