We proudly boast that we can integrate FixMyStreet Pro with any existing council CRM — and that’s the truth, though it’s always interesting to see what challenges each new one will bring.
Thanks to the London Borough of Bexley coming on board as our latest client, we can add Symology to the ever-growing list of systems that are proven to work in harmony with FixMyStreet.
There were two new challenges to solve to ensure a smooth integration here. First, although Symology has an API, which is the easiest way to ask a CRM to provide you with regular feeds of data, we couldn’t find a way to extract updates on reports from it. These updates are what keep our users informed of the progress of their issues, so we needed to find a different way to extract them.
No problem, thanks to Bexley’s obliging and responsive team: to get around this issue, they set up a regular CSV export for us. FixMyStreet Pro can automatically parse this and take in the contents, then publish updates on the site as appropriate.
The other challenge was that Symology has no functionality to perform ‘logic assignations’ — in other words, using the relevant fields of a report in order to send them on to the correct team, assign them the right priority, or apply analysis codes. Fortunately, we were able to integrate all the necessary moving parts into our Open311 adapter functionality, making sure reports will be directed to the right place.
A final belt and braces move is that when a report is identified as high priority, we send it to a dedicated priority email address as well as into the system, to make extra sure that it is seen as quickly as possible.
We enjoyed meeting these challenges for Bexley, who were receptive to all our suggestions and very helpful working with us to get them implemented.
Everything that happened to get this integration up and running need not trouble the residents of Bexley, of course. Reporting their issues will be smooth and simple — and that’s the end result we always strive for.
We often talk about how FixMyStreet Pro can integrate directly with council’s existing systems, and how doing so can help councils be more efficient — but what exactly does that mean in practice?
Let’s take a look at our two most recent FixMyStreet Pro installations. Both B&NES and Buckinghamshire councils use the same asset management system, Confirm, and it gives us a great example of how FixMyStreet Pro’s ability to ‘communicate’ with such systems will make everything a whole lot easier for residents and for council staff, even with two very different types of local authority.
FixMyStreet has always provided the resident with an easy interface through which to file a street report. For many councils, however, such reports arrive in an email inbox and then have to be forwarded to the right location or typed into the council’s CRM, all adding to the sum total of time and effort dedicated to each report.
Now, using the Confirm API, Bucks and B&NES councils can access and work on FixMyStreet reports through Confirm’s standard ‘inspector module’, removing any need for this extra step.
Optionally, the information flow can go both ways, and indeed this is the case for both B&NES and Buckinghamshire councils. What this means is that for example, when an issue has been inspected and council staff change its status (perhaps from ‘report received’ to ‘repair underway’), this status change will be passed back to FixMyStreet, automatically syncing with the site, and notifying the report-maker with the update — again removing another mundane task from customer services staff.
If a highways inspector should come across a new issue while they are out and about on their rounds, they can raise an issue in Confirm just as they always would have. But now, that will also create a report on FixMyStreet which residents can view, keeping everyone up to date and ensuring that reports aren’t made about issues that the council already know about.
FixMyStreet Pro also allows for council administrators to create template responses — an invaluable timesaver when responding to one of the more common situations such as “issue identified and prioritised” or “issue now fixed and closed”. While Confirm also has its own template responses, FixMyStreet Pro offers more flexibility, as the same template can be reused across multiple report categories and status types. Buckinghamshire really saw the benefit of this: they were able to reduce the number of templates in use from around 450 to 46.
Assets such as streetlights, grit bins and gullies can be pulled through from Confirm and overlaid on the map. This makes it significantly easier for both residents and staff to locate and report issue, speeding up the issue resolution time — we’ll be delving more deeply into this in our next blog post, with a few more technical details for those who are interested.