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Abandoned hire bikes and e-scooters can now be reported via FixMyStreet

Citizens in London can now report abandoned hire bikes and e-scooters via FixMyStreet, which will send reports directly to the operator responsible. 

A new report category has been added to FixMyStreet to enable citizens to report abandoned hire bikes and e-scooters in and around London. Reports of such problems can also be made via FixMyStreet Pro, the individually branded and integrated version of the service used by several London borough councils and by Transport for London (TfL).

Importantly, any reports submitted under this category, whether made on the national FixMyStreet site or via an authority’s own branded FixMyStreet Pro service, are sent directly to the operator responsible for the abandoned bike or e-scooter. FixMyStreet is currently able to triage reports to Lime, Dott, Forest and Tier.

 

Abandoned hire bikes or scooters can be reported via the mobile and desktop versions of FixMyStreet and will be sent directly to Lime, Dott, Forest, Tier or TfL

 

Upon selecting the ‘Abandoned bikes/scooters’ category, FixMyStreet asks report-makers to select which operator is responsible for the bike or e-scooter in question. Reports are then sent to the appropriate operator, containing all the other useful information included as standard in a FixMyStreet report, such as the report-maker’s details, easting and northing, latitude and longitude, nearest postcode to the pin placed on the map and more.

There is also the option to report abandoned Santander Cycles to TfL via FixMyStreet, which has been available since 2020. Whenever a report-maker selects the ‘Abandoned Santander Cycle’ category, these reports will be automatically triaged to TfL, even when made via a London council’s own FixMyStreet Pro service or TfL’s. 

 

Brent Council’s FixMyStreet Pro service takes reports for abandoned hire bikes or scooters and sends them straight to the relevant operator

 

Angela Dixon, Managing Director at SocietyWorks, said: “The provision of cycle and e-scooter hire schemes helps councils to support greener local travel and alleviate capacity pressures on peak time public transport services. However, when incidents of abandonment occur they create a nuisance for residents and put an unnecessary strain on council customer services, who have to manually triage reports to their contracted operators.

“We hope this new feature of FixMyStreet and FixMyStreet Pro helps to ease some of that pressure and its associated costs by ensuring reports of abandoned bikes and e-scooters are sent straight to the people who can deal with them, and in turn get neighbourhoods tidied up faster for residents.

“While currently only available in London, we hope to be able to replicate this across the UK in the future for the benefit of more citizens who live in areas where such schemes are in operation.”

FixMyStreet can also be used by citizens to report other local problems such as potholes, fly-tipping and broken street lights. The service has been run since 2007 by civic technology charity mySociety, while the integrated Pro version of the service is run by the charity’s subsidiary SocietyWorks.

Visit the FixMyStreet website for more information about the national service, or if you’re a council or other public body who would like to use the software as your own, find out more about FixMyStreet Pro here.

FixMyStreet is now available in Welsh

Broken street lights, fly-tipping, potholes and other local, place-based issues in Wales can now be reported to the correct authority by citizens in Welsh as well as in English via FixMyStreet, the long-running reporting service for street and environmental problems provided by civic technology charity mySociety, upon which SocietyWorks’ FixMyStreet Pro is built.

FixMyStreet is a progressive web app that enables citizens across the UK to report local problems to the authority responsible for fixing them, even if they do not know who that is. For the first time since its launch in 2007, users in Wales wanting to make reports in Welsh will be able to view a Welsh-language version of the website and app, including a Welsh-language map provided by Mapio Cymru.

Image shows a desktop and mobile version of the Welsh-language version of FixMyStreet, including the Welsh-language map tiles provided by Mapio Cymru

Over half a million people in Wales speak Welsh and the Welsh Government aims to double this by 2050. Having digital services that work as well in Welsh as they do in English is key to achieving this growth in the language. Launched in 2019, Mapio Cymru is a project that aims to ensure mapping services are as good in Welsh as they are in English. Using open data sources Mapio Cymru provides a Welsh-only map of Wales. It also works with organisations across Wales to improve mapping services in the Welsh language.

Louise Crow, Chief Executive at mySociety, said: “FixMyStreet was built to make it easier for citizens to report problems in their communities. We are delighted to be able to make the service accessible to Welsh-speaking citizens, with a fully translated reporting process and a Welsh-language map, enabling users to select the street names and locations with which they are familiar. We look forward to seeing the Welsh-language version of the service put to good use by more citizens who care about improving where they live.”

Ben Proctor, Innovation Director at Data Orchard CIC which runs the Mapio Cymru project, said: “Digital mapping technology is really powerful and easy for organisations like mySociety to use in English. Sadly it’s not the same in Welsh. We aim to make it easier for organisations to deliver services on the highest quality Welsh-language mapping available.”

Are you a Welsh-speaker?

Welsh-speaking users can start using the Welsh-language version of FixMyStreet straight away by heading to cy.fixmystreet.com or downloading the FixMyStreet app from the relevant app store.

There are gaps in Mapio Cymru’s Welsh language map because the project relies on volunteers and public bodies to contribute definitive Welsh names. Volunteers can help to plug the gaps by adding the Welsh names for features on the map (buildings, roads, mountains, fields and so on). Public bodies can help to plug the gaps by publishing the Welsh names that they hold for features under an open licence. The Mapio Cymru team is available to advise on these issues. Just visit the Mapio Cymru website.

Image: Catrin Ellis

National FixMyStreet app replaced with progressive web app

Originally launched in 2007 by our parent charity mySociety, FixMyStreet is a national reporting service for local street and environmental problems that sends reports to the correct authority even if the report-maker doesn’t know who that is. 

Citizens can use the website, or they can download an app from the app store if they prefer. Until very recently, that app was a dedicated, ‘traditional’ app that ran on a different codebase to the website, and to each of the FixMyStreet Pro sites built for SocietyWorks’ client councils and other public sector bodies.

Not anymore though.

The FixMyStreet app has now been replaced with a brand new app store progressive web app.

This is very good news for app users, the councils who receive reports from FixMyStreet, and those who use FixMyStreet Pro as their own reporting solution – here’s why.

  • Assets on the map

The new app store PWA enables assets like street lights and grit bins that were previously only available on FixMyStreet Pro sites to be displayed on the national site and app, meaning citizens are always able to make reports containing the most accurate information possible, no matter where they make the report.

Three mobile phones each showing how different assets such as street light and bus stops can be displayed as small yellow circles on the FixMyStreet map

    • One codebase

    Having a PWA instead of a website and separate dedicated app means that we don’t need to maintain two different codebases, helping us to keep costs down for our public sector clients without compromising on service delivery.

    • Offline reporting

    Mobile phone showing how reports can be started on FixMyStreet while offline

    PWAs permit offline capability to websites by downloading a bit of JavaScript (called a service worker) to devices, allowing reports to be started on the website or app without internet connection and finished when back online. This is particularly handy for users in more rural areas where connectivity is poor.

    • A consistent user experience

    With everything running from the same codebase, this also means that everyone always enjoys the same user experience, with updates made to the website automatically reflected on app store PWAs. It also means accessibility is of the same high standard across the board.

     

    What are progressive web apps?

    Progressive web apps (PWAs) are websites that have been designed with ‘app like’ qualities. They look and act like an app and can be downloaded to a mobile’s home screen like an app – either from an app store or by simply saving the website directly to your device.

    The main differences between PWAs and ‘normal’ dedicated apps is that they run from the same codebase and users are not obligated to download them in order to use them. Plus, they enable you to provide exactly the same experience to users across the website and “app”, with new features and functionality automatically available.

     

    Is FixMyStreet Pro a PWA too?

    Three mobile phones showing how Buckinghamshire Council's FixMyStreet Pro PWA can be downloaded

    Yes, and that’s nothing new! FixMyStreet Pro was already a PWA, giving the councils and other public sector bodies that use the solution the ability to offer their users the choice to use a website, or download their PWA if they prefer. 

    Individually branded FixMyStreet Pro PWAs aren’t downloaded from an app store. Instead, users need to load the website from a browser on their chosen device and save it to their home screen – it will then work exactly the same as an app store PWA.

    With all FixMyStreet Pro sites connected to the national service, the solution is capable of triaging reports on a nationwide scale, diverting reports meant for other authorities or agencies like National Highways.

    Want to know more about FixMyStreet or FixMyStreet Pro? Get in touch with us

    Image: William Fortunato

    New crosshairs for mobile reporting on FixMyStreet

    Mobile users of FixMyStreet and individual branded versions of FixMyStreet Pro can now make reports using a new crosshairs feature.

    The crosshairs should make it even easier for report-makers to position the pin accurately on the map when using touchscreens, particularly those on smaller mobile devices. 

    Here’s an example of how the new crosshairs look within the FixMyStreet reporting workflow, starting with finding the location of the issue you want to report on the map (the crosshairs will automatically display in your location if you select “Use my current location”), placing the pin and then repositioning if needed. Report-makers can pan and zoom in/out of the map as required.

    Image shows three mobile screens, showing how the new crosshairs look at the first stages of reporting a problem via FixMyStreet

    And here’s how the crosshairs look on one of our cobrand FixMyStreet Pro sites (we have used Oxfordshire County Council’s version of FixMyStreet Pro as an example).

    Image shows three mobile screens, showing how the new crosshairs look at the first stages of reporting a problem via FixMyStreet Pro for Oxfordshire County Council

    The crosshairs have been automatically added to all FixMyStreet Pro sites. 

    If you are a FixMyStreet Pro client with a question about the crosshairs, please raise a ticket via the helpdesk.

    If you are a council or other public body interested in learning more about FixMyStreet Pro, you can get in touch with us here.

    Automatically triage reports to parish and town councils with FixMyStreet Pro

    Recently we’ve been working with Buckinghamshire Council on introducing some new functionality to FixMyStreet Pro, our integrated street, highway and environment reporting service, to enable automatic triaging of reports to town and parish councils, and better ways of passing reports between authorities.

    Parish and town councils

    Map showing all the town and parish councils in England and Wales

    Parish and town councils cover almost the entirety of England and Wales, except for the main urban areas. There are 10,000 parish or town councils in England (National Association for Local Councils), and over 730 town and community councils in Wales (Welsh Local Government Association).

    These councils take responsibility for a variety of things within the community, such as bridleways, bus shelters and litter bins, and they sit within larger principal authorities which may also sometimes be responsible for the same things in certain cases.

    For this reason, when there’s a problem that needs reporting, it can be hard for citizens to know which level of authority is responsible for what problem and when.

    New functionality for FixMyStreet Pro

    FixMyStreet has always been able to automatically divert fault reports to other councils and authorities, based on the location and category of the report – but not at the parish level. Until now.

    With the new functionality in place, parish and town councils can be set up as sub-bodies to a principal council within its instance of FixMyStreet Pro, and on the national FixMyStreet site. 

    This way, categories can be assigned to more than one body, and asset layers can be placed over the map to enable the service to work out for the report-maker whether the report needs to go to the principal authority or the parish level council.

    Case study: Buckinghamshire

    Buckinghamshire’s town and parish councils

    Buckinghamshire Council is a unitary authority, but the county itself is made up entirely of parish and town councils. Residents can report numerous issues via Buckinghamshire’s FixMyStreet Pro site, some of which are the responsibility of the unitary council, others the responsibility of the parishes.

    Previously, Buckinghamshire staff were forwarding reports to individual parish councils wherever necessary, but this wasn’t ideal, so they asked us to make it possible for FixMyStreet Pro to work out for the resident where the report needs to go, and to send it there without the need for any manual intervention. 

    For example, any reports of fly posting are now diverted straight to the correct parish, based on the geo location information provided within the report.

    In more complex cases, such as grass cutting, the recipient of these reports depends on the speed limit of the road. So, at one end of the road a grass cutting report might need to go to the parish, but at the other end of the road the report needs to go to the unitary council. 

    Aylesbury Town Council’s own section of Buckinghamshire’s FixMyStreet Pro service

    Thankfully, the report-maker never needs to worry about this, because Buckinghamshire’s FixMyStreet Pro uses a speed limit asset layer, in addition to the geo-location and category, to work out where to send the report.

    Additionally, from Buckinghamshire’s FixMyStreet Pro site, you can now view each individual parish or town council on its own map, along with the reports it has received. 

    Wider benefits to councils

    While Buckinghamshire and its parishes were the focus when building this new functionality, a few of the features we introduced are beneficial to all users of FixMyStreet Pro.

    Updating report statuses via email

    Arguably the most important one of these features is the ability to provide updates on reports without integration into a backend system. 

    As you can imagine, most small parish or town councils don’t have expensive backend systems from which to manage inbound reports. In the past, whenever there’s been no backend system with which to integrate FixMyStreet Pro to facilitate a two-way flow of data, the only option would have been to email the reports.

    In the spirit of keeping the feedback loop closed and being able to publicly display a report’s status (eg ‘fixed’ or ‘in progress’) on the site, we’ve made it possible for parish councils to update reports via email using a special code in the subject line, which will correspond to the new status of the report.

    Of course, lots of councils or other authorities receiving reports from FixMyStreet may not have a backend system, so this feature is a really positive step forward in ensuring that feedback can always be provided transparently via the platform.

    Private text updates

    Another feature that will be of use to more than just parish and town councils and their principal authorities is the ability to specify different text to be displayed on the public report update and the private update sent directly to the report-maker. 

    This is useful for sharing any extra information that you may not want to display publicly, such as feedback surveys.

    Recategorising reports

    Finally, Buckinghamshire wanted to be able to recategorise reports, because citizens sometimes select the wrong category. This could lead to reports being sent to a parish council when they should go to the unitary council, or vice versa. 

    Now, council staff have the option to reassign a category if needed, which will ensure the report gets to the right place in the end.

    For more information about FixMyStreet Pro, you can contact us here.

    Image: Beth Jnr on Unsplash

    How FixMyStreet intelligently diverts reports of litter on England’s highways

    Litter is one of many local issues that can be reported using FixMyStreet, mySociety’s nationwide, map-based street reporting service. 

    Each report received by FixMyStreet is sent to the council or authority responsible for dealing with the problem, which is established by the selected category and geo-location information within the report.

    Reporting issues on England’s highways

    Should a report be made about an issue on one of England’s highways, FixMyStreet knows to send it to National Highways instead of the local council, thanks to integration with the highways agency. 

    National Highways also offers its own branded version of FixMyStreet Pro, enabling citizens to make reports directly to the agency using the platform’s intelligent functionality. 

    Because all Pro sites are connected to the main FixMyStreet platform, wherever a report is made, they all end up in the same place, and the map will be able to display all existing reports to report-makers to help reduce duplication and improve transparency.

    Not our problem

    National Highways manages a vast stretch of motorways and some A roads, but not all problems found on those roads are its responsibility. Depending on the type of road, some issues, like litter, actually fall to the local council to take care of.

    It would be unreasonable to expect citizens to know who is and isn’t responsible for different issues on different roads, which is where FixMyStreet’s ability to create an asset layer-based connected network for reporting  problems really shines. 

    As mentioned above, the national FixMyStreet site automatically sends reports to the correct place based on the category and location of the problem. So if a citizen uses FixMyStreet to report litter on a road managed by National Highways but on which the council would be responsible for litter, the service will work this out behind the scenes and ensure the report goes to the correct place.

    Screenshot of National Highways' FixMyStreet Pro site. Map on the right hand side with a green map pin showing the location of an issue. On the left hand side a message in a blue textbox explains that National Highways is not responsible.

    If a citizen goes to National Highways’ own FixMyStreet Pro site to make a report about litter on a road where the council is responsible, when the pin is dropped on the map and the ‘litter’ category is selected, a message will appear explaining that National Highways is not responsible. 

    From here, the report-maker is encouraged to continue onto the nationwide FixMyStreet site, where the details of the report will be carried over, the remaining information can be filled in and the report can be submitted to the correct council.

    FixMyStreet was built to make it easier for citizens to report any local problem, without needing to know who is responsible. FixMyStreet Pro gives councils and other public authorities the opportunity to adopt the service as their own – hosted and managed by us. 

    To find out more about FixMyStreet or FixMyStreet Pro, request a demo

    Image: Wilhelm Gunkel

    How to increase transparency with FixMyStreet’s report statuses

    FixMyStreet, our map-based reporting tool for street and highway problems, and FixMyStreet Pro, the fully branded, hosted and integrated version of the service, enable you to assign a status to each report you receive that is visible to the public and reflects the issue’s journey to resolution. 

    With all reports displayed on the map, this report status adds an extra layer of transparency for councils and other public sector organisations using the service, allowing citizens to see not only what problems have already been reported, but also what’s being done about them.

    A tool for transparency

    When used properly, report statuses help to build trust and increase transparency, while also deterring duplicate reports and failure demand, which pushes report-makers back onto the phone to your customer contact centre in search of clarification or more information.

    Councils and other public sector FixMyStreet Pro customers can choose from a number of statuses, designed to help you accurately share where a report is up to within your internal processes in a way that is easy for citizens to understand. 

    The standard report states on FixMyStreet are currently as follows:
    • Open

    Report is open and confirmed (automatically applied to all new reports once report-maker has verified their email [if not signed in at the time of reporting])

    • Action scheduled 

    Report has been reviewed and action has been scheduled

    • For triage

    Report is awaiting internal review or re-categorisation

    • In progress

    Report’s resolution is in progress/action is being carried out

    • Investigating

    Report is under investigation

    • Planned

    Report’s resolution has been planned/scheduled as part of a wider maintenance project

    • Closed

    Report has been closed for one of a number of reasons (this is a generic status only to be used if another cannot be assigned, such as ‘fixed’, ‘not responsible’ or ‘no further action’ – reasons for closure can and should be included within the response template, which can be done manually or automatically via integration)

    • Duplicate 

    Report is about an issue that’s already been reported

    • Internal referral

    Report has been referred to another team within the council/public body

    • Not responsible

    Report is about an issue that is the responsibility of another council/public body/private organisation

    • No further action

    Report’s issue cannot be fixed/issue does not meet intervention criteria

    • Fixed

    Report’s issue has been fixed

    Best practice

    We leave it up to you to decide which statuses best suit your internal processes – report status names can be modified across the FixMyStreet platform (this includes the national, free-to-use FixMyStreet.com site) to better reflect those used by your customer service and inspection teams, and terms used within your integrated back-end systems. 

    You can also make use of hardcoded statuses, which are named differently on the front and back end to make them easier to understand for citizens on one side and staff on the other.

    Equally, additional statuses can be added if required, or you can restrict those which you do not want to be visible to the public.

    However, we do recommend that, when changing the status of a report, you make use of FixMyStreet’s ability to provide a tailored, explanatory response update that will be attached to the report and emailed to all subscribers, giving more context about what the status means to help manage expectations. 

    Screenshot showing an example of one of Bromley Council's response templates used via their FixMyStreet Pro portal. The response template is attached to the 'In progress' report status and reads: "Thank you for your report, this is not being investigated. Information on our services and the timeframes we aim to respond in can be found: [URL to Bromley's website]"
    Example of a response template used by Bromley Council for reports marked ‘in progress’ on their instance of FixMyStreet Pro
    For example, when marking a report as ‘no further action’, it’s important to say why this is to help the report-maker and anyone else who’s interested understand your reasoning.

    Similarly, when marking a report as ‘action scheduled’ it is worth explaining your service level agreements to set expectations for when the action should be carried out.

    You can also use automatic templates that can be added to the FixMyStreet Pro front-end workflow based on back-end codes. For example, multiple codes used in your asset management or CRM system can be attached to different ‘action scheduled’ responses. 

    Or if you’re using FixMyStreet Pro as your case management system, you can create your own templates and simply select the most relevant as you go.  

    Avoiding confusion

    Whichever way you organise your report statuses, our golden rule is to ensure that reports are not marked as ‘fixed’ until the problem has actually been resolved, or assigning one of the closed statuses (eg. ‘closed’, ‘no further action’, ‘not responsible’) without providing an explanation as to why and what this means to you.

    For example, ‘closed’ to you could mean ‘action scheduled’, but to the report-maker ‘closed’ could be interpreted to mean that the issue has been fixed, so when they see that the problem is still there, it may provoke them to call you or try to reopen or duplicate the report.

    Sometimes this occurs because your customer contact centre hasn’t been provided with enough guidance on what each status means in relation to your processes or how to use the response templates. Other times it’s because your front-end status mapping isn’t quite matched up to your back-end (asset management and/or CRM) status mapping.

    We can help with training sessions or report status mapping, so please speak to your account manager if this is something you’d like to explore.

    Want to know more about FixMyStreet or FixMyStreet Pro?

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