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
There’s now a new category on Streetcare, the TfL version of FixMyStreet, for reporting abandoned bicycles.
The Santander Cycle system, allowing Londoners to travel from A to B cheaply and conveniently, is managed by TfL.
You hire a bike from one docking station and responsibly return it to another when you’re finished, so someone else can use it. Unfortunately sometimes bikes are not docked correctly and can end up missing and eventually abandoned.
TfL wanted to give citizens a simple way to report abandoned bikes, so they could arrange for them to be collected and returned to the scheme as soon as possible. TfL asked if we could add a reporting function on Streetcare as an option to report abandoned bikes.
Anyone can make a report quickly and easily on Streetcare, with no need even to provide contact details (unless you want updates on your report). ‘Abandoned Santander cycle’ is one of the category options, and as with any other report, you can add photos and more details, while marking the precise location on a map.
These will be passed to the relevant team so they can go and make the collection — and you can feel like a good citizen, assured that there’s one more bike back in the game and available for use.
Image: John Jackson
At TICTeC Local, the conference on impacts of technology for communities and local government, the fault-reporting service FixMyStreet today announced a new partnership with TfL.
Thanks to the deal, from early December reports made through the site will be routed to TfL where it is the authority’s responsibility to get them fixed — and as another option, there’ll also be a smart new portal on TfL’s website for easy reporting.
TfL have responsibility for all highways issues (red routes) on main arterial roads in Greater London, as well as most bus stops, traffic lights and bus shelters, underground and overground stations.
When a report is made anywhere within Greater London, the FixMyStreet system will automatically route it to the right authority: that’s the relevant council if it’s their responsibility; or TfL if it’s up to them to get it fixed.
TfL reports will drop directly into the transport authority’s own system, which has been integrated with Manager and Inspector tools, as developed to answer the needs of contractors as part of the FixMyStreet Pro service.
Additionally, where reports are made through the websites of the five London boroughs which use FixMyStreet Pro as their main reporting interface for citizens, this smart routing will also kick in, with relevant reports being redirected to TfL. And that goes both ways, so reports made on the TfL website which aren’t their responsibility will be sent off to the right council instead.
Mark Cridge, Chief Executive of mySociety, the non-profit who run FixMyStreet, said, “This is a great step forward and shows just how well the FixMyStreet platform can knit in with other systems to ultimately produce more connected, efficient city services.
“It’s a model we could replicate across other major metropolitan areas such as Greater Manchester, Birmingham or Glasgow and Edinburgh. There are also opportunities to plug in with Business Improvement Districts and any other pan-London systems that process reports from the public.”