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Brent Council transforms digital offering for two key service areas with SocietyWorks

Brent Council is working with SocietyWorks to improve the online experience for residents when contacting the authority about two of its most in-demand services: residential waste and street and environment reporting.   

Residents in Brent can now make use of two new digital portals, both powered by SocietyWorks’ citizen-centred technology: one for making waste-related requests, reports and payments online, using WasteWorks; the other for reporting street and environmental problems, using FixMyStreet Pro.

Branded to look exactly like the rest of Brent Council’s online environment and integrated directly with the Council’s existing asset, in-cab and payment systems, both WasteWorks and FixMyStreet Pro have enabled the council to facilitate a smooth transition for residents and staff, with no interruption to delivery. These integrations also permit information to be shared to and from residents, the Council and its contractors to help keep the feedback loop closed and improve resident satisfaction.

Brent Council's installation of WasteWorks, through which residents can access all aspects of waste services online
Brent Council’s installation of WasteWorks, through which residents can access their waste services online

Brent Council’s dedicated instance of WasteWorks simplifies access to waste services online by providing one front door for all transactions, such as reporting a missed collection, ordering a new container or paying for a subscription to a green waste collection. Through integration, the portal can provide real-time updates about collections to residents to help Brent close the feedback loop, manage expectations and avoid unnecessary contact.

The portal was designed in collaboration with Bromley Council, and was shortlisted for the Public/Private Partnership award at the LGC Awards 2022. For Brent, we hope to replicate the success Bromley has seen with WasteWorks, with a 40% drop in unnecessary contact within the first few months of launching and a continual rise in subscriptions to waste services.

Meanwhile, through FixMyStreet Pro, residents can report local problems such as potholes, blocked drains and fly-tipping. The solution is designed as a progressive web app, giving residents the option to use it as an app or a website, with no obligation either way. It also has the unique ability to automatically triage reports on a nationwide scale, including to Transport for London, which reduces avoidable contact and eliminates manual intervention.

Angela Dixon, Managing Director at SocietyWorks said: “Consistency is key when it comes to improving the digital experience for residents, and with both WasteWorks and FixMyStreet Pro working in tandem for Brent, residents will benefit from using an efficient and intuitive interface across two different but equally in-demand service areas. It is a pleasure to collaborate with a council that takes such a forward-thinking and thorough approach to digital transformation.”

If you would like to know more about FixMyStreet Pro or WasteWorks, request a free, informal demo here.

The duplicate report suggestion radius on FixMyStreet Pro is now customisable

FixMyStreet Pro has a very clever feature that suggests existing nearby reports to users if a pin is dropped on a map within a certain radius of another report of the same category. 

If an issue has already been reported, FixMyStreet Pro encourages the user to subscribe to the existing report instead of re-reporting it – a time saver for both the would-be report-maker and the council responsible for responding to the problem at hand.

Previously, the radius for this feature was fixed at 250 metres. However, at the request of our clients, we have now implemented a new update to enable FixMyStreet Pro customers to customise the radius within which an existing report will be suggested to a user.

 

Image shows a screenshot of Brent Council's FixMyStreet Pro service. On the right hand side is the map, with two map pins indicating existing reports and a green pin indicating a new one yet to be made. On the left hand side is a text box, asking whether the issue has already been reported and giving the user option to 'Read more' or subscribe to the existing report.
An example of the duplicate report suggestion feature on Brent Council’s installation of FixMyStreet Pro

 

A larger radius can be useful for reports about issues that are likely to cover a large area, where users may drop a pin in a number of places to report the same issue. Meanwhile, a smaller radius can be more helpful in areas where there may be lots of reports of similar, but not identical problems.

By encouraging users to subscribe to existing reports wherever possible, the duplicate report suggestion feature helps to increase transparency and facilitates a one-report-per-issue approach to problem reporting without creating any extra work for council staff. 

The duplicate report suggestion feature is available to all FixMyStreet Pro customers.

For more information about this feature, or any of FixMyStreet Pro’s other intuitive features, please don’t hesitate to get in touch

SocietyWorks provides Northumberland County Council with dedicated version of FixMyStreet Pro

Northumberland County Council is the latest local authority to have chosen SocietyWorks’ FixMyStreet Pro as its new reporting solution for street, highway and environmental issues.

Potholes, fly-tipping, broken street lights and other local place-based issues in Northumberland can now be reported to Northumberland County Council using a brand new installation of FixMyStreet Pro. 

Provided by SocietyWorks, the wholly owned subsidiary of civic technology charity mySociety, FixMyStreet Pro is a long-running, map-based solution developed in collaboration with councils, which integrates with existing backend systems to create a seamless reporting experience and close the feedback loop between residents, the council and its contractors. 

Image shows how FixMyStreet Pro for Northumberland looks on a desktop screen and mobile phone.
FixMyStreet Pro is a Progressive Web App, meaning it is available for residents to use as web service or it can be saved to mobile or tablet home screens to be used as an app. All users enjoy the same experience, no matter how they use the service.

For Northumberland, the solution is integrated with the Causeway Alloy asset management system, ensuring reports go to the correct team and enabling updates to be sent back to report-makers. With all reports displayed on the map and the capability to automatically divert reports to other authorities, including to National Highways, FixMyStreet Pro will help Northumberland to increase transparency and reduce unnecessary contact. 

Glen Sanderson, Leader of Northumberland County Council said: “We’re so pleased to be launching this system which should revolutionise the way we deal with issues on our roads and footpaths.

“This new online tool is the most direct way to report anything to us that needs fixing, cleaning or clearing across the county.

“In a short few clicks, people can easily alert the council to an issue and receive an update once it’s been resolved.”

Angela Dixon, Managing Director at SocietyWorks said: “Since launching in 2012, FixMyStreet Pro’s development has been guided by the councils using the solution and their residents’ needs.

“As a not-for-profit organisation passionate about helping local authorities to innovate using integrated, citizen-centred technology, it is great to see another council choose FixMyStreet Pro and join our collaborative network.

“We have really enjoyed working with Northumberland and we look forward to seeing the council use the solution and get involved in its future.”

Want to know more about FixMyStreet Pro? Request a demo to see how the solution could work for you.

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

    Brent Council chooses FixMyStreet Pro as its new reporting solution for street and environmental problems

    SocietyWorks is working with Brent Council to transform the way residents report local street-based problems and access residential waste services online, starting with the installation of a dedicated version of FixMyStreet Pro.

    Brent Council is the latest local authority to switch to FixMyStreet Pro for managing inbound street and environmental fault reports from residents. Like the twenty four other other local and public authorities across the UK using the software, Brent will benefit from FixMyStreet Pro’s unique ability to automatically triage reports on a nationwide scale, including to Transport for London, which reduces avoidable contact and eliminates manual intervention.

    The map-based solution has a simple interface designed to make it easier for residents to report problems on any device, while also displaying all reports on the map to enable residents to subscribe to existing reports instead of creating duplicates. 

    Integrated directly with two of Brent’s backend management systems Symology and the Selected Interventions Echo system, which is used by the council’s waste contractor Veolia, FixMyStreet Pro will help to improve accuracy and close the feedback loop by facilitating a two-way exchange of data from council to report-maker. 

    The introduction of FixMyStreet Pro in Brent will be followed by the rollout of a dedicated version of SocietyWorks’ residential waste portal WasteWorks to also improve the user experience when accessing information and making requests about waste services. 

    Councillor Krupa Sheth, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Environment and Climate Action at Brent Council said: “We take serious pride in our streets and green spaces. In order to make sure our spaces are functioning – we need your help. I encourage all residents to let us know when they encounter fly-tipping, potholes, graffiti and other issues by using report.brent.gov.uk.”

    “Thank you to all the residents who do keep us up to date with issues in the borough, it really does help us to keep Brent clean and green.”

    Angela Dixon, Managing Director at SocietyWorks said: “It has been a delight to support Brent with this ambitious project to improve the digital experience for residents in two different service areas. At every stage it has been clear that resident needs are being prioritised, and we look forward to seeing our technology make a positive impact in the borough.”

    FixMyStreet Pro for Brent Council is now live for residents to use: https://report.brent.gov.uk/

    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.

    Southwark Council switches to FixMyStreet Pro for managing street fault reports from residents

    Southwark Council is the latest in a fast-growing number of councils to adopt SocietyWorks’ map-based reporting solution FixMyStreet Pro for taking reports of street cleaning issues from residents.

    Residents in the London borough of Southwark can now report street and environmental faults, such as fly-tipping, graffiti and overgrown grass, using a brand new installation of FixMyStreet Pro, built specifically for Southwark Council. 

    Provided by SocietyWorks, the wholly owned subsidiary of long-running civic technology charity mySociety, FixMyStreet Pro offers a simple, accessible and intuitive reporting experience and will feed reports directly into Southwark’s asset management system Confirm via integration. 

    Image shows how FixMyStreet Pro for Southwark looks on desktop and mobile devices

    Crucially, FixMyStreet Pro will help Southwark to close the feedback loop for residents without adding extra workload for staff by automatically pulling updates back out of Confirm for report-makers.

    The new system displays all reports publicly on the map and is also capable of automatically diverting reports meant for other authorities, including for Transport for London, which will enable Southwark to increase transparency and improve the reporting user experience for both its residents and its staff.

    Cllr Catherine Rose, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Parks, Streets & Clean Air, said: Our new online tool is the most direct way to report anything to us that needs fixing, cleaning or clearing on Southwark’s estates and streets. In a short few clicks, you can easily alert the council to an issue and receive an update once it’s been resolved.

    “We chose FixMyStreet Pro because it was the most user friendly street cleaning platform on the market. It takes away the stress of knowing who to contact at the council about issues we know our residents really care about, like fly tipping. We look forward to working with residents through FixMyStreet Pro to keep our streets cleaner, greener and healthier.”

    Angela Dixon, Managing Director at SocietyWorks said: “We are delighted to have yet another London borough benefit from FixMyStreet Pro’s ability to simplify the reporting process and connect councils together for the satisfaction of citizens.

    “It has been a genuine pleasure to work with the team at Southwark, who have kept their residents’ needs at the front and centre of their rollout of FixMyStreet Pro. We look forward to seeing residents and staff make use of the new system.” 

    FixMyStreet Pro for Southwark Council can be found here: https://report.southwark.gov.uk/ 

    Camden Council becomes latest local authority to switch to FixMyStreet Pro

    Camden Council joins over twenty other councils and public sector bodies in using FixMyStreet Pro as its citizen-facing online fault reporting tool for street and environmental issues. 

    A new, dedicated version of FixMyStreet Pro has launched for the London Borough of Camden, through which residents can report issues such as potholes, fly-tipping and broken street lights. 

    Developed by SocietyWorks, the wholly owned subsidiary of civic technology charity mySociety, FixMyStreet Pro is a user-friendly, map-based online reporting solution, designed to make it easy for residents to accurately report problems on any device.

    FixMyStreet Pro will help to reduce report duplication by displaying all reports on the map and close the feedback loop by integrating with Camden’s backend system Symology to facilitate a two-way flow of data from council to report-maker. 

    Camden will also benefit from FixMyStreet Pro’s unique ability to automatically divert irrelevant reports to the correct council or authority, including to Transport for London, reducing unnecessary contact and improving processes.

    Councillor Adam Harrison, Cabinet member for a sustainable Camden said: “Having the most up to date information about where there are any problems on roads and pavements across Camden can help us to respond to these quicker.

    “Reports provided via the new FixMyStreet app and website are vital to this. Issues such as potholes, broken street lighting, damaged road signs, and blocked or flooded drains can now be reported quickly on the go and allow users to provide the exact location and upload a photo.

    “This information is then sent directly to our engineers so they can investigate and seek to fix the problem in a more efficient and effective manner. The individual who reported the issue is then updated once the issue reported has been resolved.”

    Angela Dixon, Managing Director at SocietyWorks said: “Camden is the tenth London borough council to have chosen FixMyStreet Pro as its fault reporting solution, along with Transport for London.

    “This is a really significant step forward, not just for Camden, but for the capital as a whole, with FixMyStreet Pro creating a transparent and unified fault reporting process, capable of cross-borough report triaging, which makes it as easy as possible for London residents to report problems wherever they are.”

    FixMyStreet Pro for Camden Council is now live for residents to use: https://fixmystreet.camden.gov.uk/  

    SocietyWorks awarded Certificate of Excellence at Public Sector Transformation Awards

    We’re delighted to have been awarded a Certificate of Excellence at the iESE Public Sector Transformation Awards in recognition of our recent work with Buckinghamshire Council on helping to unify the fault reporting process between Buckinghamshire and its 171 parish and town councils. 

    Transforming fault reporting between authorities and local parish and town councils

    This collaborative project involved developing some innovative new functionality for Buckinghamshire’s instance of FixMyStreet Pro, our street and environment fault reporting solution, to enable automatic triaging of reports to town and parish councils and better ways of passing reports between authorities.

    The functionality shields Buckinghamshire’s residents from the confusion caused by trying to work out whether the local parish, town or unitary authority is responsible for a problem. It also eliminates the need for council staff to manually triage reports, leading to a more efficient user journey for all involved and reducing costs by cutting down administration and failure demand. 

    Crucially, this new development helps parish and town councils benefit from FixMyStreet’s ability to improve the reporting experience and close the feedback loop. Not only can residents now report problems out of hours, but the parish and town councils, who do not usually have their own CRM system, can respond to all reports simply by replying to the emails they receive, updating both the report and the customer. 

    Impact so far

    In a short time, Buckinghamshire is already seeing benefits such as the elimination of duplicate reports between the unitary council and the parish/town councils and a vast reduction in progress chasing calls (already decreased by nearly 50% compared to last year).

    For grass and hedge cutting reports alone, by reducing email administration and progress chasing calls into both the council’s Customer Service Centre and into parish and town councils, Buckinghamshire Council anticipates savings of circa £50,000 per year, not including the savings that will be made by the parish and town councils!

    Lloyd Jeffries, Service Director (Business Operations) at Buckinghamshire Council said: “We have a published Customer Service Standard, this new process is part of our Customer Promise and definitely makes reporting issues easier by joining things up for our customer, both inside the council and with our local partners. In addition, we have seen a significant decrease in progress chasing calls from the public, compared to the same period last year. We are using technology to get the report to the right team, as well as managing customer expectations at the first point of contact. This is a game changer!”

    If you’d like to discover more about FixMyStreet Pro, request a demo

    SocietyWorks makes shortlist for LGC Awards 2023

    We’re thrilled to announce we have been shortlisted for the Technology award at the LGC Awards 2023 in recognition of our work in partnership with Buckinghamshire Council to unify the fault reporting process between the unitary authority and its 171 parish and town councils. 

    The Technology award celebrates developments that bring about increased efficiency, better use of resources and effective behaviour change – all things that we’re proud to say have been achieved through FixMyStreet Pro, our street and environment fault reporting solution, at Buckinghamshire Council.  

    Importantly, the new functionality developed through this project can be used by other authorities using FixMyStreet Pro. It can also be adapted to improve report triaging to other external bodies who take responsibility for certain issues.  

    Our work with Buckinghamshire Council

    This collaborative project involved developing some innovative new functionality for Buckinghamshire’s instance of FixMyStreet Pro to enable automatic triaging of reports to town and parish councils and better ways of passing reports between authorities.

    The functionality makes reporting problems easier for residents by working out on their behalf whether the local parish, town or unitary authority is responsible. 

    “We are using technology to get the report to the right team, as well as managing customer expectations at the first point of contact. This is a game changer!”

    Lloyd Jeffries – Service Director (Business Operations), Buckinghamshire Council

    Meanwhile, for Buckinghamshire Council and the local parish and town councils, FixMyStreet Pro eliminates the need for staff to manually triage reports, creating a much smoother user experience for all involved, and reducing costs by cutting down administration and failure demand.  

    Crucially, this new development gives parish and town councils the opportunity to benefit from FixMyStreet’s ability to improve the reporting experience and close the feedback loop. Not only can residents now report problems out of hours, but the parish and town councils, who do not usually have the facility to have their own CRM system, can respond to all reports simply by replying to the emails they receive, which will then update the report and the customer.

    Impact so far

    In a short time, Buckinghamshire is already seeing benefits such as the elimination of duplicate reports between the unitary council and the parish and town councils, plus a vast reduction in progress chasing calls (already decreased by nearly 50% compared to last year).

    For grass and hedge cutting reports alone, by reducing email administration and progress chasing calls into both the council’s Customer Service Centre and into parish and town councils, Buckinghamshire Council anticipates savings of circa £50,000 per year, not including the savings that will be made by the parish and town councils!

    Lloyd Jeffries, Service Director (Business Operations) at Buckinghamshire Council said: “We have a published Customer Service Standard, this new process is part of our Customer Promise and definitely makes reporting issues easier by joining things up for our customer, both inside the council and with our local partners. In addition, we have seen a significant decrease in progress chasing calls from the public, compared to the same period last year. We are using technology to get the report to the right team, as well as managing customer expectations at the first point of contact. This is a game changer!”

    Angela Dixon, Managing Director at SocietyWorks said: “Buckinghamshire Council has been a very proactive user of FixMyStreet Pro since 2018, helping to shape the development of the solution for the benefit of residents. We’re so pleased to see this partnership and the technology we have developed together recognised by the LGC alongside some other incredible development projects. Good luck to all the finalists.”

    If you’d like to see FixMyStreet Pro in action and discover how it could work for your authority, request a demo

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