For the past three months, residents in the town of Hanover, Mass., have used a new mobile application to submit work requests to the city’s public works department funded through a state grant program.
Called “Your Gov,” the app let’s users preselect a municipal-owned asset such as a building, bridge or road from the GPS location services on the phone and then select and enter a description of the problem. Users can also take and submit a photo.
Once submitted, the request is automatically inserted into the town’s database and handled as a normal work order request.
In the first three active months of use, 662 work order requests were submitted through the app.
“The smartphone-enabled system gave the residents and building users the ability to report facility issues using their mobile devices,” wrote program manager Tim Dodd on the Massachusetts state innovation blog. “The enhanced system would allow facilities managers to download these issues onto mobile devices and to utilize these smartphones to enter status data regarding the completion of facility repairs.”
The funding came from the Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s Community Innovation Challenge grant program that provides seed money and one-time transition costs to thoughtful proposals that have the potential to positively impact the ways that municipal governments provide core services to residents.
The town applied for and received a $46,000 CIC grant in fiscal year 2012 to create a smartphone-enabled system to increase efficiencies, such as the expansion of capabilities of the existing computerized maintenance management systems.
Additionally, the grant allowed the town to enhance its level of customer service by using technology to develop strong relationships between residents and those who utilize town owned facilities.
Prior to receiving the grant, the town implemented a computerized maintenance management system for “vertical” assets (buildings and immediate surroundings) and a separate CMMS for “horizontal” assets (roads, bridges, etc.). The grant sought to extend the use of these products and to develop tools to extract data automatically for use by the public.
The CMMS for vertical assets provided a simple web-based ability to accept maintenance requests from facility users, but it did not include the ability to capture GPS positioning of requests and link to geographic information systems.