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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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])
Report has been reviewed and action has been scheduled
Report is awaiting internal review or re-categorisation
Report’s resolution is in progress/action is being carried out
Report is under investigation
Report’s resolution has been planned/scheduled as part of a wider maintenance project
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)
Report is about an issue that’s already been reported
Report has been referred to another team within the council/public body
Report is about an issue that is the responsibility of another council/public body/private organisation
Report’s issue cannot be fixed/issue does not meet intervention criteria
Report’s issue has been fixed
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.
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.
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.
For councils that don’t have an existing case management system, FixMyStreet Pro’s inspector tool allows staff to receive, manage and respond to reports directly from the front-end of the service.
The inspector tool works by enabling council staff to build up a shortlist of reports that they’re responsible for dealing with. It’s a neat little feature – and it just got even more useful.
Up until recently, reports had to be found and self-assigned by the individual staff members who would be taking ownership of them.
Now, after working with our clients Cheshire East Council, we have developed the functionality to allow managers to directly assign inspectors to particular reports on their behalf.
This means that, when logged in to the front-end of FixMyStreet Pro, managers can view who’s been assigned to each report, and can assign or reassign reports to individual team members.
Managers can also filter by report status to see how reports are progressing, and can bulk assign or reassign reports as needed.
For inspectors, the tool’s new feature means less time assigning themselves to reports and more time carrying out their inspections. Plus, because FixMyStreet Pro provides offline support, reports can be updated on-the-go, even without connection to the internet.
For councils like Cheshire East, the inspector tool replaces legacy pen and paper systems, improving the way reports are assigned and managed without the need to integrate with an external case management system.
The inspector tool has been made available to all FixMyStreet Pro customers.
Got any questions? Let us know.
Last week we hosted our first user group of 2022, bringing together our community of councils and public sector organisations using FixMyStreet Pro to show them our latest features, talk about new developments and give everyone the chance to influence what we work on next.
Here’s what happened on the day:
Kicking the event off, senior developer Dave Arter gave us a tour of some FixMyStreet Pro’s latest features.
These include improvements to the service’s case management functionality, which now enables council staff to filter reports and assign or reassign cases to inspectors. There’s also a new councillor access portal to FixMyStreet Pro’s heatmap, on which councillors can see at a glance where problems are being reported.
Bekki Leaver introduced herself to the group and shared some of the exciting things she’ll be working on over the coming months, such as evaluating and researching the user need for some new features, facilitating our Discovery workshops and progressing our ApplyWorks service, designed to streamline the way citizens submit applications and license requests.
Bekki also put a call out to councils who want to help test some of our new features with residents. This call is also open to non-clients, so if you’re reading this and you’d like to be involved, please get in touch.
Tracy Eaton, Product Owner for FixMyStreet at Buckinghamshire Council, delivered a brilliant case study about the improvements to citizen reporting that we’ve been able to bring about together so far (such as implementing accuracy-boosting asset layers and creating category specific acknowledgement messages), and the council’s plans for further transformation using FixMyStreet Pro (watch this space!).
We also heard from Mark Peet, Program Lead at Shropshire Council, who provided an insight into how we worked together recently to understand the views of local residents, councillors, and council staff at all levels and apply what we learned to the successful and speedy rollout of the county’s new FixMyStreet Pro service.
Our Marketing & PR Manager Sally Bracegirdle gave us a preview of some soon-to-be-published research into citizen reporting in the UK: what makes citizens want to report problems; what puts them off and what do they expect from a reporting service?
The research was carried out in collaboration with YouGov and mySociety’s Research team. We’ll publish a blog post when it’s been released to the public – keep an eye out.
There’s a lot of complexity in the way FixMyStreet directs reports to the correct place on behalf of citizens, automatically working out which tier of council is appropriate for a report. As senior developer Matthew Somerville demonstrated, there’s still one level of council that FixMyStreet is not yet able to serve: town and parish councils. Matthew talked us through why this is and our plans for making it happen in the future.
Finishing off the event, Clare Armiger, our account manager, led a review of our client development roadmap, giving attendees the chance to vote for which of their suggestions for future development we should look to take through to user research next. The winning idea was to identify more opportunities to signpost to relevant public authorities wherever the council is not responsible for a report.
And that was our January user group for FixMyStreet Pro!
Would you like to come along to the next user group?
You don’t have to be a Pro user to attend our user groups; we’re happy for guests to come along, meet our community and see what the service is all about for yourself. Let us know if you’d like an invite.
Image: Skye Studios
With winter weather come the inevitable problems that need reporting by citizens across the UK’s network of roads and highways. From potholes to floods to fallen trees, every year the councils and public authorities responsible for investigating these reports rise to the challenge of dealing with increased contacts from citizens.
For over ten years now, our FixMyStreet Pro service has been helping to reduce the load on those authorities, while also improving the reporting experience for citizens, by closing the feedback loop and increasing transparency.
With councils helping to drive our product development roadmap, we’ve added a whole host of features and functions that help to keep contacts down, especially during seasons of high demand. Check out some of our favourites below.
One report per defect. That’s our ultimate aim in publicly displaying existing reports on the map for citizens to take a look and see whether the problem they have spotted has already been brought to your attention.
When a citizen clicks on the map to make a report and selects a category, FixMyStreet Pro will find any similar reports within the same area and suggest them to the citizen before they continue with their report. If the problem has already been reported, the citizen can simply subscribe to the existing report instead of creating a new one.
For you, that means no duplication of effort, and a faster way to keep any interested citizens updated on the report’s progress.
What’s even better than stopping duplicate reports? Removing the need to report a problem in the first place – something FixMyStreet Pro does by enabling you to display upcoming remedial works on the map.
If a problem’s location and category corresponds to some works you’ve already scheduled, display a message detailing the works and expected completion date to reassure the citizen that no report is needed, just like Bath & North East Somerset are doing in the image to the left.
Alternatively, you can display works as alternative pins on the map, to display when ‘All reports’ are selected by citizens, just like Oxfordshire County Council.
It’s always great when citizens care enough about their local neighbourhood to report any problems to you. And because they care, they tend to want to know exactly what’s happening about fixing the problem not long after reporting it, especially if the issue is affecting their everyday life.
By integrating with any and all back office systems you use, FixMyStreet Pro makes it easy for your teams to keep report-makers updated on the progress of their reports. Tell them that it’s due to be inspected, let them know when works have been scheduled, even send them a photo when the problem’s been resolved – all at the click of a button.
This way, you can reduce the likelihood of citizens jumping straight onto the phone or emailing you to chase for an update on their report.
Some problems need to be dealt with faster than others. Trees blocking roads, serious flooding or dangerous potholes are all examples of problems you might need to know about a bit faster than via a digital report.
In those cases, you can display emergency messaging on FixMyStreet Pro and signpost to the best way for citizens to tell you about emergencies, whether that’s a phone number or an email.
In areas like London where multiple authorities are responsible for fixing different problems, FixMyStreet Pro’s intelligent functionality to reroute reports to the correct place really comes in handy, helping you to avoid having to process reports that you can’t fix.
Depending on the location and category of the report, FixMyStreet Pro will automatically work out who’s responsible for a problem, and direct the citizen away from your service with no interruption to the reporting process and no intervention required from your staff.
For more information about how FixMyStreet Pro can help you to improve reporting for you and your residents, why not book a quick demo?
Image: Jonathan Bean
Merton Council has joined a growing number of London boroughs using SocietyWorks’ FixMyStreet Pro service to process reports from residents about local environment issues.
Londoners living in the borough of Merton can now make reports about environment issues such as fly-tipping and graffiti via the council’s newly launched FixMyStreet Pro service. Developed by SocietyWorks, the subsidiary of civic technology charity mySociety, FixMyStreet Pro is focused on helping citizens be active members of their community by making it easy to report problems and closing the feedback loop between council and resident.
FixMyStreet is an extremely user-friendly platform, and it will make it even easier for our residents to play their part.
Councillor Natasha Irons, Merton’s Cabinet Member for Local Environment and Green Spaces
Merton Council is one of several London authorities to use FixMyStreet Pro and benefit from its intelligent functionality to handle the complex routing of inbound street and environment reports, automatically ensuring everything goes to the correct place, including being able to divert reports to Transport for London where relevant. With integration into Merton’s Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM system, FixMyStreet Pro acts as the user-friendly front door to environment reports, with a simple, fully-optimised interface that works perfectly on any device and facilitates a two-way flow of data so that report-makers can stay up to date with the progress of their reports.
Councillor Natasha Irons, Merton’s Cabinet Member for Local Environment and Green Spaces: “Merton is a great place to live, work and visit but, like all London boroughs, we’re seeing too many people abusing our public spaces with environmental crimes like fly-tipping and littering. We want everyone to take care and pride in their neighbourhoods and behave considerately, so that everyone can enjoy our great borough. FixMyStreet is an extremely user-friendly platform, and it will make it even easier for our residents to play their part.”
Mark Cridge, Chief Executive at SocietyWorks said: “FixMyStreet Pro provides London councils with a key opportunity to join a community of authorities and other agencies delivering a truly efficient and joined-up service. We’re delighted to welcome Merton into the FixMyStreet family, and we’re excited to continue working together to build a stronger, more active community.”
FixMyStreet Pro is now up and running in Merton. Residents can use the service to report local environment issues.
Want to explore how FixMyStreet Pro could work for you? Request a demo with the SocietyWorks team here.
FixMyStreet Pro’s ability to handle the complex routing of inbound street and highways reports really comes into its own in London.
With thirty-two different boroughs and multiple public authorities taking responsibility for keeping the Capital’s cogs turning, the process of reporting problems in London can be somewhat of a tangled web for residents that aren’t sure who’s responsible for what, and for councils whose teams and internal systems are working in silo, leading to more phone calls, more emails, more duplication of effort and slower response times.
FixMyStreet Pro has the intelligent functionality to connect everything together for councils using the service, and automatically reroute reports from one authority to another – and it works at its best when everyone is using it to its full potential.
That’s why earlier this week we hosted a focused workshop for our growing contingent of London-based FixMyStreet Pro customers to share best practice ideas for how to get the most out of the service and maximise user uptake.
Transport for London (TfL)’s Customer Services Delivery Manager Fola Olafare kicked things off by talking through how FixMyStreet Pro (known by TfL as Street Care) has been working for them since its launch in 2019, and their ambitious aims for expanding the service’s reach and impact over the next eighteen months.
Fola’s presentation ended with a lively group discussion in which attendees from Hounslow Highways and the London Boroughs of Bromley, Hackney, Merton and Westminster bounced their best ideas around for accelerating channel shift.
Next up we heard two case studies on successfully establishing FixMyStreet Pro as your channel of choice for taking reports from citizens.
Tracy Eaton, newly-appointed Product Owner for FixMyStreet Pro at Buckinghamshire Council, where 61% of reports are now being made via FixMyStreet Pro, spoke about the importance of making use of the service’s ability to feed detailed and transparent information back to citizens, and how, by using FixMyStreet Pro’s map asset layers, duplicate reports for related categories have dropped down to just 0.05%.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Richards, Business Support & Market Manager at Bromley Council, shared some insight into Bromley’s channel shift journey with FixMyStreet Pro, which now accounts for a whopping 94% of all inbound reports.
For our final session of the workshop, SocietyWorks’ Senior Developer Matthew Somerville gave a detailed demonstration of what is, arguably, the most intelligent and useful feature of FixMyStreet Pro for London boroughs: its ability to display assets and categories that are the responsibility of another authority on the map, and to reroute any reports pertaining to those categories.
This particular feature of FixMyStreet Pro reflects the key functionality of the national FixMyStreet.com service, which allows citizens to make reports to councils and ensures those reports go to the correct place. After all, most citizens don’t care about whether an issue is the responsibility of one council or another, and nor should they have to; they just want to make a report and receive updates about its progress.
The difference with the Pro version is that everything is integrated with councils’ backend systems, so not only do reports go to the correct place, but they also require no manual intervention from staff, and facilitate a seamless two-way transfer of data.
Take the London Borough of Bexley’s version of FixMyStreet Pro as an example. As well as allowing residents to select from a list of categories that are the responsibility of the borough, Bexley also displays categories for reports that need to go to TfL (eg. Abandoned Santander Cycles), if and when a resident clicks on the ‘red route’ area of the map.
Any reports made on a ‘red route’ will automatically be sent to TfL, creating a really smooth experience for the report-maker and saving Bexley the trouble of having to deal with an irrelevant report.
In cases where a report could still be the responsibility of TfL, but it’s not on a ‘red route’, FixMyStreet Pro will work that out and send the report to TfL instead of to Bexley. Take the example below, which shows TfL’s traffic lights asset layer displayed on Bexley’s reporting service, ensuring that the report will not only go to the right place, but gives the most accurate information when it arrives.
Vice versa, on TfL’s version of FixMyStreet Pro, Street Care, should a citizen go to make a report about an issue on a ‘red route’, they will be able to choose from a variety of categories, most of which are the responsibility of TfL, some of which aren’t.
For example, if a citizen heads to Street Care and tries to report some litter on the road, they will be advised that this report needs to be dealt with by the borough, and will be able to click through to the national FixMyStreet.com site where the report information will be carried over, causing no interruption to the report-making process.
Equally, if a citizen tries to report a problem via Street Care and drops the map pin on a road that’s not maintained by TfL, this will be explained clearly and, again, the report-maker will be able to click through to a pre-filled report on FixMyStreet.com.
It’s not obligatory for our London borough councils to display ‘red routes’ and redirect reports to other authorities, but Matthew’s demonstration provided ample inspiration for how transformational doing so can be to the user experience.
For London boroughs, FixMyStreet Pro is a powerful tool for channel shift and presents a crucial opportunity to join a community of councils and other authorities delivering a truly efficient and joined-up service.
Image: Ashleigh Joy Photography on Unsplash
View and monitor reports for each of your service areas through one visual heatmap, built into the dashboard of FixMyStreet Pro and WasteWorks.
Back in 2019 we worked with Bromley Council to introduce a new heatmap feature to FixMyStreet Pro’s arsenal of tools for council staff.
The heatmap converts report data into a visual format that is easy to understand, allowing council staff to see at a glance which issues are most prevalent, and where they are being reported.
Since being rolled out to all Pro customers, the heatmap has become one of the service’s most popular and useful features, which is why we built the same functionality for our new waste service WasteWorks.
Bromley also co-designed WasteWorks with us, and so is one of the first councils to go live with the service and benefit from being able to track and manage more than one service area from a single, central dashboard.
Now, when Bromley staff log in to their FixMyStreet Pro dashboard and select the heatmap overlay, as well as being able to view street and highways reports, they can also see where reports and requests are being submitted through WasteWorks for waste services.
The heatmap looks and works in the same way as before for Bromley. Hotter colours represent higher report volume, cooler colours represent fewer reports, and dropdown filters allow staff to view report data by category, status, timeframe and ward.
By default, the heatmap shows every report made to the council in the last month, so initially the map will look something like this:
But now, without needing to leave the page, Bromley staff can view reports about, say, fly-tips, made in the last 12 months, which have been closed…
…or, green garden waste subscriptions, which have been completed in the last 5 days.
Heatmaps for both FixMyStreet Pro and WasteWorks are available to all UK councils. If you’d like to see how they work, you can request a demo.
Councils using FixMyStreet Pro can now redact particular areas of images uploaded by a citizen instead of having to remove them.
FixMyStreet Pro has always provided councils with the ability to moderate the content that citizens upload within their reports.
Say, for example, a citizen accidentally includes any personal information within the title or description of a report, staff can easily edit the content or remove it from the site using the moderation tool.
Similarly, if a citizen uploads a photo with their report that contains any personal or inappropriate content (think: licence plate numbers on parked cars or addresses on letters that have been fly-tipped), those photos can be quickly hidden as the need arises.
Now, hiding or removing the photos from reports is one solution, but we believe that capturing and being able to publicly share photos from citizens is important; it gives the community an even clearer view of exactly what issue has been reported and where. Meanwhile, for council staff and inspectors, photos can help to provide valuable additional context to reports that can’t be as easily gleaned from a description alone, further helping to accurately locate the defect and prioritise its repair.
So, what if instead of removing an entire image you could simply redact the usually quite small part of it that needs to be hidden?
Well, now you can.
A new feature for FixMyStreet Pro’s moderation tool allows council staff to redact particular areas of an image uploaded by a citizen when logged into the dashboard.
So if a report contains an image in which a car’s licence plate is visible, you can select the image in question and draw a rectangle over the license plate to block it from view. If multiple licence plates are visible in one image, multiple rectangles can be drawn.
Once saved, the changes to the image will be reflected everywhere it is displayed, giving you complete peace of mind. Of course, if you need to revert a redaction or you want to remove the entire image, you still can with no hassle.
Importantly, and in-keeping with FixMyStreet Pro’s focus on improving the citizen experience, the staff member making the redaction can write a short note to the report-maker to explain why it has happened. This note will be sent straight to the citizen automatically, which should help them when they next make a report.
The image redaction feature is now available to all of our FixMyStreet Pro customers. If you’d like to see the image redaction feature in action, or you have any questions, you can contact us here.
Image: Franco Ruarte
Last week we hosted another of our FixMyStreet Pro user groups. These events provide the perfect opportunity for us to get together with all of our council partners to show them what we’ve been working on and, importantly, give them the chance to influence what’s next for FixMyStreet Pro.
Senior Developer Dave Arter gave everyone a tour of all of the recently added features for FixMyStreet Pro, from a new OS Maps API and some fantastic mobile navigation improvements to extra detailed asset information and intelligent image redaction.
We also heard from Sam Pearson, mySociety’s Site Reliability Engineer who took us behind the scenes of FixMyStreet Pro. Sam gave us a fascinating glimpse into the architecture of the service, how it’s maintained and how we keep it secure for our customers.
A highlight of our user groups is always the interactive roadmap session – this is the part where we involve councils in helping to decide what new features we should be working on next for FixMyStreet Pro.
Starting with a runthrough of some of the new feature suggestions we’ve been receiving from our council partners recently by Operations Director Louise Howells, we then broke out into five groups to discuss each suggestion and prioritise them from most to least pressing. Under the guidance of our Designer Martin Wright, each group used Miro boards to select the one project they most wanted to see worked on, before regrouping to compare selections and choose an overall winner.
So what did our council partners choose to be worked on next for FixMyStreet Pro? Scheduled emergency messages that only appear at the correctly calculated time. This is something several councils have asked for, so we’re very happy to be getting the ball rolling.
As well as having a say on our development roadmap, the user groups are also a great opportunity for councils to share best practices with each other, present case studies on how FixMyStreet Pro is working for them and discuss topics of interest.
Jack Bowers, Principal Highways Liaison Officer at Central Bedfordshire, presented a brilliant case study all about how FixMyStreet Pro has, within just a few months of launching, helped the council to create fast channel shift, improve the citizen user experience and reduce reporting costs by 24%. Just what we like to hear!
We also heard from Tom Scholes, Group Manager – Asset Data & Systems at Oxfordshire County Council, who led a very engaging discussion on demand management and intervention criteria. Tom spoke about how the council often receives reports about potholes that fall below their threshold for repair. He then sought advice from other councils on how best to utilise FixMyStreet Pro to handle this without compromising the citizen experience. Some fantastic ideas were thrown around, and we’ll be on hand to support Oxfordshire to better help citizens understand what counts as an actionable report.
And that’s it! It was a very enjoyable user group, and we’re already looking forward to the next one in November, which with any luck will be an in-person event!
If you have any questions about anything mentioned above, or you’d like to be invited to the next user group, do let us know.
Image: S O C I A L . C U T