Image by Mardruck. A shot of a potholed street in Montevideo, taken from a low angle, lined by grand but crumbling buildings.

A FixMyStreet site for Montevideo

Por Mi Barrio is a Uruguayan install of our FixMyStreet software, allowing citizens in the city of Montevideo to report street problems. It was set up, and is run, by DATA, a transparency NGO.

Just as with the original FixMyStreet.com, Por Mi Barrio reports are published online as well as being sent directly to the public authorities responsible for fixing them.

When DATA first made contact, they had been aware of mySociety’s FixMyStreet in the UK for quite some time. They knew that it had been installed in many countries and cities around the world, and thus that it must be possible to adapt it for international use.

Why FixMyStreet?

DATA’s Daniel Carranza and Fernando Uval explained that our international outreach was what gave them the confidence to proceed further:

The fact that you guys actually devote time and effort to help people like us to use this tool was a huge plus. Face to face meetings added tremendous insight into the workings of FixMyStreet and how we could use it.

DATA understood the benefits of open source code. But for them, the benefits are a two-way street:

Of course, FixMyStreet is open… that was absolutely fundamental for our decision.

Early on we knew we needed (and wanted) to add something and hopefully give back to the community in some way.

That’s something that could have been harder with other communities/tools but you were very welcoming from the start, and actually excited that we wanted to develop stuff that hadn’t been developed before.

And on that note, you also saved us a TON of time with your previous experiences in other places. The SMS functionality in particular and your experience in the Philippines is something we’ll always be grateful for.”

When it came to specific features of the FixMyStreet platform there were two that Fernando and Daniel singled out for praise. MapIt is the code that matches any point on the globe with the public authority responsible for it, and it’s what makes FixMyStreet work so well from the users’ point of view. It’s also a mySociety creation, and comes wrapped up as part of any FixMyStreet install.

Open 311, on the other hand, is simply a protocol which allows any service to place reports directly into the IT systems of public authorities. FixMyStreet is fully Open311 compliant, and that was also a big plus for DATA.

Por Mi Barrio, Uruguayan FixMyStreet

Results

Daniel and Fernando estimate that Por Mi Barrio is responsible for around 5% of all reports that the council receives, and they’re about to launch an advertising campaign that should promote even further use.

Thanks to the administrators’ Stats page — a contribution to the codebase from DATA themselves— they’re able to see that, as we speak, 54% of the reports have been finalised, with another 30% in progress.

Stats like these “help a lot with transparency and credibility”, says Daniel.

Support has been almost unanimous. There was a great press response, a great political response both from the government and the opposition parties, great feedback on Twitter (including a guy obsessed with telling everyone he finds complaining on Twitter to go use Por Mi Barrio, seriously!) and we even won a couple of prizes.

Por Mi Barrio, Uruguayan FixMyStreet

What next?

Por Mi Barrio’s successful install has inspired a number of other possibilities in the wider region.

The interest from other cities in having Por Mi Barrio has been huge. We’re very, very happy that one of those possible new deployments is now going on in Costa Rica.

There are also possible installs in Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and the city of Rivera in Uruguay. And some of these projects can bring DATA income through grant funding:

All this is amazing, because we get to see the project growing and being useful for more people. FixMyStreet and Por Mi Barrio have already been crucial for our growth as an organisation and for our credibility, now it’s also helping to fund itself and even help sustain DATA.

 

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Image: Marcelo Druck (CC)