Location-to-email reporting software
Our FixMyStreet software was created to fulfil a specific purpose — to allow residents to report issues such as potholes and fly-tipping to the local authority responsible for getting them fixed.
But the FixMyStreet platform can also be used and adapted for any other project where you require users to make location-based reports, and want those reports to be published online for everyone to see.
This UK project uses the FixMyStreet platform to enable the reporting of cycling accidents and near misses, to improve road safety for all.
How FixMyStreet was repurposed so that West Midlands passengers could feel safer on public transport.
How it works
The original FixMyStreet software was developed so that it could be used anywhere in the world: that means that it’s relatively easy to swap in the three factors that are needed to run a FixMyStreet site for your own country: maps, authorities (including their boundaries), and contact email addresses.
When a user makes a report, they are asked to place a pin in the map. This generates co-ordinates which are matched to the correct local authority.
The user is then asked to pick a category (such as ‘potholes’ or ‘streetlights’). FixMyStreet has a list of contacts for each local authority, and will send the report to the right department as dictated by this category.
So far, so straightforward. Now imagine that you wish to use FixMyStreet for another purpose altogether. Perhaps you are from a charity that is trying to save the whale.
You would like your supporters to report incidents of whales being washed up on beaches, or whaling ships that are violating local laws on hunting. You’d also like to record sightings of whales for your own research into how healthy stocks are around the country.
First, you’d tell FixMyStreet which area to cover: this can be as local as a single neighbourhood or as large as the whole world.
Then you’d input your categories: in this case, they’d be: washed up whales, hunting violations, and general sightings.
Finally, you’d instruct the code on where to send each type of report. Perhaps washed up whale reports will go directly to activist groups who will drop everything and go and help as soon as they get the word.
Reports of hunting violation might go to the local law enforcement, and more general whale sightings go to your own researchers.
But you can be more granular than that. FixMyStreet looks at the location and the category of every report, and based on those two factors, sends it to the right contact.
For example, let’s say you have an office in each country, so a sighting reported in Canada will go to your Canada office; likewise anything reported in Japan will go to your Japanese one. Equally, a report of whale hunting in Siberia would go to the local Siberian police force, while a washed up whale on the River Thames will send an email off to the UK Save the Whale activist group.
There is no limit to how many categories you can include, and to how many contacts you can input for each category. However, you will need to have data for the boundaries of each of your authorities: if these match any form of legislative boundary (such as parliamentary constituency or country) then you’re already covered by MapIt; otherwise you will need to input specific boundary data — drop us a line if you’d like to know more about that.
Ready to go?
Start at FixMyStreet.org, where you’ll find the code, documentation and a community ready to offer support.