Since Macon began taking basic service calls through web-based SeeClickFix, requests for city work have gone up by 20 percent, according to Amanda Deaton, assistant chief administrative officer for budget and planning.
Thats fallen most heavily on the Public Works Department, which already got the lions share of requests.
Despite the increased workload, responsiveness apparently hasnt suffered; and if anything its improved, judging by the experience of Ben Sapp, Georgia Sports Hall of Fame managing director.
Its a great program, he said. Sapp used an iPhone app to report two problems in the last month or so. One was a leaking pipe in front of the sports hall.
That was responded to immediately, and fixed in three or four days, Sapp said. He considers that good time for a major repair.
The other was a tall, dead tree, near to falling down, in a city alley next to Sapps house. It could have fallen on buildings, cars or people, he said.
Sapp put in the SeeClickFix request on a Sunday evening. As he was on his way to work Monday morning, a Public Works employee called in response. The worker was already in the alley, preparing to cut down the tree, Sapp said.
He couldnt have been at work 10 minutes before he turned around and checked it out, Sapp said.
In November the city got 882 reports of problems through SeeClickFix, according to a city tally. Four-fifths of those were reported closed by the end of the month.
That usually means the problem has been fixed. Some requests are, for now, merely acknowledged -- particularly the ones for garbage carts.
Those are now the most common request on SeeClickFix, Deaton said. People who ask for a new cart get a message saying theyve been added to a waiting list, since the city only buys so many new carts per year. In 2011 City Council approved spending about $100,000 to buy 2,000 new carts, plus an additional 500 lids.
On Monday the SeeClickFix front page for Macon showed several requests for garbage carts; a Dec. 21 request, still open, for street cleaning on Cardinal Place; notice of two dead animals, closed; and several minor street complaints from the previous few days.
About 70 percent of the requests come direct from residents, but city workers enter SeeClickFix requests, too -- and some of those are filed on residents behalf, so its hard to tell exactly how many problems are noted only by city workers, Deaton said.
Macon began using SeeClickFix in April, taking reports through the website of illegal dump sites, abandoned houses, dirty streets, missing garbage carts, potholes, dead animals, erosion, damaged sidewalks and more.
Most of those requests go to Public Works, though Central Services and Economic & Community Development are also on the SeeClickFix system. But in November, only 10 issues came in that were relevant to the latter two departments, Deaton said. Theres talk of adding other city departments to the system, even police, according to Chris Floore, city public affairs director. But it may not be very useful in some cases.
You really dont want someone reporting a crime on SeeClickFix. You want them to call the police, Floore said.
An emerging use for SeeClickFix is to help city officials monitor the types of requests that come in, so they can shift resources where needed, Deaton said. Its already become clear that garbage and sanitation services are the No. 1 issues that need work, she said.
But the flexibility of SeeClickFix lets people report things the city may not have known residents wanted, Deaton said.
If 10 or 20 people have that issue, 100 people could have that issue, she said.
Residents can use the Report an Issue button on the city website, www.cityofmacon.net; type the location into www.seeclickfix.com, or use free iPhone, Android and Blackberry apps available on the SeeClickFix website.
In addition to filing a written note and map location, pictures of problems can be uploaded.
Once the resident submits an issue, anyone watching an area of the city will receive an alert. The city can then acknowledge the service request, route it to the proper department and post progress reports.
Residents without computer or smartphone access can still report issues to the city by calling the citys Customer Service Desk at 751-7400.
The first year of the program is being funded with a $5,000 grant from the Knight Fund for Macon at the Community Foundation of Central Georgia. Continued funding for the rest of the calendar year is already in the city budget, Deaton said.
The city is publicizing SeeClickFix to business groups, at community meetings and Neighborhood Watch gatherings, Floore said. Bibb County also uses it, so its fairly likely that use of SeeClickFix or a similar system will continue after city and county governments merge in January 2014. For now, Floore said, the city considers it to be setting a bar for government service responsiveness that the new government can emulate.
To contact writer Jim Gaines,