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City fights problem spots with city-specific app

Public works employees Murray, Frank and Patrick patch a set of potholes along Mission Flats Road in Kamloops last week.
February 14, 2013 - 7:34 AM

By Jennifer Stahn

As the seasons change and the spring melt starts, City of Kamloops staff are kept busier trying to stay on top of the city's pothole problems.

In prior years, public works employees would patrol roads this time of year, ensuring no problem spots have popped up and rely on residents to report problems through either the city's website or by actually calling the city directly. But this year, the city has had more help from Kamloops residents using the myKamloops app to report problems.

The app has made a huge difference addressing issues before they become bigger – saving both time and money, the city says. For example, when potholes can be patched early on, it's easier for recycled asphalt to be used in the process, which saves time, money and resources.

City of Kamloops geographic information systems manager Adam Chadwick says the smartphone app has a made a world of difference for city crews, allowing them to quickly address problems that arise because the problems are reported more quickly.

Not many people know how or where to report a pothole (or graffiti, broken equipment, etc.) and once they find out, they can't pinpoint the exact location. With the ability to report almost any kind of issue through the app, city employees out on the streets of Kamloops regularly use the app to report issues to other departments, such as public works letting the parks department know about things like fallen trees.

Chadwick said this system has made it easier to pinpoint the exact area the issue is at using GPS coordinates that are taken either by choosing your location from a map or the “use my location” option on the app.

While the app has been great for pinpointing issues such as potholes and other needed street maintenance, the most widely used report has been under the graffiti and vandalism label, with 135 incidents being reported as of the end of January. The ability to quickly remove the graffiti has also resulted in less recurrence of vandalism, said Chadwick.

Being the first city in B.C. to use the app, which is bought from an outside company and then branded specifically for the city and its individual needs, the city was unsure as to what exactly to expect. Chadwick says it has been nothing but positive so far, and looks forward to seeing how much more citizens and city staff take responsibility for helping to keep the city in top shape.

“Feedback has been really positive internally,” Chadwick says, as has the feedback from the public as well as business groups and associations. On a personal level Chadwick thinks the app is great, and is a regular user.

Currently a user submits an issue and each department looks at the internal dashboard linked to the app on a daily basis. As the reports are sent out to be addressed the status is changed to “in process” and the user gets a message noting the city has seen the report. By mid-2014 Chadwick says the city's work order process will be linked with the app and users will also know when the city is done fixing the issue reported.

The most impressive aspect of app utilization, according to Chadwick, is the turn around time the city has been able to achieve with correcting issues, especially potholes and graffiti. Often potholes are fixed and graffiti removed within a day of being reported, he said, which is good by almost any standard.

As of Jan. 31, the myKamloops app had been downloaded 1,400 times and 163 users had reported a total of 438 issues across 15 different categories. It is available across Apple, Android and Windows platforms.

To contact the reporter for this story, email or call (250) 819-3723.

Using the myKamloops app to report an issue.
Using the myKamloops app to report an issue.

A view of the mapped issues reported through the myKamloops app.
A view of the mapped issues reported through the myKamloops app.
News from © iNFOnews, 2013

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