The Town of Chapel Hill announced the release of Chapel Hill Connect, a new app that allows residents to report non-emergency issues, on Thursday, May 17.
The town built the free mobile app in partnership with SeeClickFix, a program that helps communities make reporting town maintenance issues more efficient.
“We have a lot of telephone calls that come into a variety of different places around the town where people are looking for service, or to get something repaired,” said Scott Clark, executive director of technology for the town. “A product like SeeClickFix lets us provide a self-serve option.”
Cities from Houston to Winston-Salem also use similar app programs for reporting town maintenance issues.
After downloading the app, which is available for both iPhone and Android, residents create a profile and can then report problems like cracked roads, blocked storm drains and potholes. Users can also add descriptions and photos of the reported issue. Town employees can then view these reports and begin working on repairs.
“The system is programmed to sort through (reports) and deliver it to the person who is most likely going to be able to help with that type of problem,” Clark said.
Employees can leave comments on the original complaint updating users on the progress of the repair. App users can also view all other reports, add comments and vote on which problems they think are the most important to repair.
The person who submitted a report will be notified when the issue has been acknowledged by the town and when the report has been closed after completion, according to a Chapel Hill press release.
The app also provides links to information about transit, the Chapel Hill Public Library and public pools.
Clark said the app will be used to measure how quickly the town responds to problems, the most common types of problems and which areas have the greatest number of reports. The town has received positive feedback from app users, Clark said.
Meg McGurk, executive director of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, said she was pleased with her experience using the app after she spotted a missing brick on Franklin Street.
“I immediately did it, took a picture, and sent it in,” McGurk said. “It was fixed within an hour, which is just amazing. I mean it’s just one missing brick, but still, that’s an incredible response time.”
McGurk said she will continue to recommend the app to other Chapel Hill residents.
“This really empowers community members to see something and take action, whereas town staff can’t be everywhere all the time,” McGurk said. “If a tree goes down, or a sign needs fixing, or there’s a pothole, it’s so much easier for a community member to be able to report.”
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