Fix Your Street dot ie.

I’ve been working on FixYourStreet since September of last year. I’m tasked with organising information events here in South Dublin County Council to support other local authorities in rolling out FixYourStreet. I’m the first point of contact for Local Authorities in rolling out FixYourStreet, the “Community Manager” if you like.

Fix Your Street (FYS) is a crowd sourced public realm fault reporting platform. What does that mean? It means that the public can use FYS to submit reports on faults like broken footpaths, overgrown trees, streetlights not working etc. And they don't need to login or set up an account.

Linus Torvalds, the lead developer of Linux, the open source operating system, famously said in relation to software development that “with enough eyes all bugs are trivial.” FixYourStreet aims to bring this same power, the power of “many eyes” to the management of the public realm.

At a time when government is leaner and we need to do more with less FYS has proven that the ideals of open source and crowd-sourcing can be applied to the public realm. The time was that a pothole, a litter problem or a broken public light necessitated a letter or phone call to the local authority to bring it to their attention. Now all the citizen need do is submit a report via the website or app (android only so far). This means that the many eyes of the citizens can have problems notified much more quickly which in turn means we can provide a better response. We can identify patterns and problem areas more quickly and can therefore better manage our resources.

So if you spot something amiss and you report it using what happens next?

First the report is moderated, it’s checked for inappropriate language or images. Then it’s published and assigned a county identifier. Local authorities who are not yet live will receive an email notifying them of the report and its details. Local Authorities who are already live with FYS will automatically get the report through their CRM (Customer Relationship Management) or other application. The Local Authority with responsibility for that area has the ability to update the report with comments and to change the report status from “Open”, to “In Progress”, to “Closed with Commitment” and finally “Closed”. These are the only relevant statuses applicable to FYS.

FYS is possible because of the profusion of gps or Global Positioning Systems in devices nowadays. To submit a report it’s as easy as dropping a pin on a map for where the fault is, taking a picture of the fault, adding a note and selecting the appropriate fault category.

FYS was developed, tested and piloted by South Dublin County Council. The underlying technology is open source. The mapping platform itself is Ushahidi, an open source system developed in Africa, originally as an election monitoring tool. And the infrastructure the platform sits on is the open source stack LAMP – Linux Apache MqSql and Php.

Because South Dublin County Council is committed to using Open Source Software and to Open Data, we have developed a Public API to allow 3rd parties to integrate with the FixYourStreet dataset. This means that reports on FixYourStreet can be accessed by third parties and new reports can be generated outside of FixYourStreet and added to our database.

It is envisaged that FYS will go live throughout the entire country by the end of the year. At the moment FYS is live in the South Dublin County, Dublin City, and Galway County Council areas. A significant number of other Local Authorities are currently testing their integration with FYS.

The use of FixYourStreet by Local Authorities adds an element of crowd sourcing to the management of the public realm. The citizens’ eyes and ears on the ground become an invaluable tool in letting the Local Authority know of problems as they arise. This means that resources can be better managed by Local Authorities and patterns identified much earlier than through traditional methods. The use of FYS by the public is growing steadily and the response to date has been very positive. We find that our citizens appreciate the ability to report issues directly to their Local Authority and receive updates on those reports that are timely and meaningful.

by @rherron

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