Most people know that if there’s an issue in their local area, it’s the council’s responsibility to fix it.
Potholes, broken streetlights or dangerous pavements? Report them to the local authority, job done.
Pretty simple, right? Well, actually, no. In fact, in the UK, that’s where things begin to get complicated.
A UK citizen will often live within two different council jurisdictions, and may need to contact one of a bewildering range of authorities: perhaps a City Council, or possibly a District Council, or wait — it could be a Borough, County or even Parish Council.
And although there are some generalities, there are no definite rules over which type of problem is dealt with by which level of authority.
Match this state of affairs with council websites that are often complex and slow, or authorities that will only take reports by phone, and it’s no wonder that people are tempted to give up on that simple task of making a report and getting that problem fixed.
Enter FixMyStreet.com. Launched in 2007, the site covers the whole country. Crucially, the only thing you need to know, in order to make a report anywhere in the UK, is that URL: fixmystreet.com. Or, alternatively, download the app so that you can summon it at a tap of the screen.
Type in a postcode or address, or let FixMyStreet geo-locate you automatically, and then place a pin on a map to show exactly where the issue is. Add a short description, choose a category and, optionally, upload a photo — and then the really clever stuff begins.
FixMyStreet matches the exact location of the issue, and its category, with the council responsible for getting it fixed. It sends a report by email to that council, and also publishes it online for all to see.
Would your country benefit from a FixMystreet site? Find out more
Every month, FixMyStreet sends over 12,000 reports to UK councils, with more than 50,000 people viewing the site.
Not all of those people come to post an issue. Because FixMyStreet publishes all reports online, it is also a great place to learn what the prevalent problems are, and have been historically, in your own neighbourhood. Got a solution? There’s also a place for discussion on every report page.
You don’t even have to visit to find out what’s new: you can subscribe to alerts and we’ll let you know when problems get reported within a set radius of your house or workplace, or within your ward or council. FixMyStreet is a popular addition to community and local websites, many of which use the RSS feeds to show reported problems, comments and updates in their area.
Publishing reports online also cuts down on the number of duplicate reports made, saving councils time and money.
And when reports are made via email instead of by phone, that reduces the strain on expensive call centre resources.
In fact, many councils have been so impressed by FixMyStreet’s ease of use, and its help with shifting problem reporting online, that they purchased it to use as their own primary fault-reporting system.
But it’s not only councils who have seen the benefits of FixMyStreet. It has inspired many sites around the world to pick up our open source codebase and adapt it for use in their own region. Right at this moment, people are reporting issues in Australia, Chile, Switzerland, Japan, Malaysia, and many, many other countries.
As groups and people around the world began to set up sites using the FixMyStreet platform, it became clear that we could help them, and they could help one another.
Because the FixMyStreet code is open source, anyone can help to make improvements, add new features, or fix bugs. When that happens, everyone benefits, from the users of the original UK site, to the paying council clients, to all the other people running FixMyStreet sites everywhere.
FixMyStreet… and beyond
FixMyStreet, despite its name, doesn’t stop at street fault reporting. We’ve proven its use as a cycling accident report system, an award-winning TV tie-in for reporting empty homes, and a platform for reporting anti-social behaviour on public transport.
We’re keen to go on exploring more uses for this very flexible software that began with the potholes and flytipping problems of the UK. Its potential uses are clear for all types of sector, from housing associations to global charities.