1. Are you one in 6,983,028? Looking at our UK visitor numbers

    How many people visit mySociety’s websites?

    That’s a question we don’t ask ourselves as much as many other organisations. Much of our current funding is dependent on transactions (that is, the number of people using the site to complete an action such as making an FOI request, writing to a politician, or signing up to receive emails when their MP speaks), and rightly so, since that is a better measure of the sites’ actual effectiveness.

    All the same, visitor numbers* do tell us about things like how much public awareness there is of what we do, and which of our sites is more visible than the others, so it’s good to take a proper look now and again.

    Which of our UK sites is most visited?

    By far our most popular site in terms of visitor numbers is our Freedom of Information site WhatDoTheyKnow. With over 4.5 million visitors 2014-15, it’s had three times more users than its closest competitor, TheyWorkForYou.

    As well as allowing users to submit FOI requests, WhatDoTheyKnow also puts the responses into the public domain, so that the information becomes openly available. Every request receives, on average, twenty readers, meaning that transactions do not show the whole picture for this site.

    WhatDoTheyKnow’s user numbers are also rising steadily. It’s up 8% on last year, and March 2015 was its highest month for unique users since its launch in 2008, at 470,509.

    Which is least visited?

    This dubious honour goes to WriteToThem, which nonetheless welcomed 457,209 visitors during the year, either helping them to write to their representatives, or simply showing them who those representatives were.

    This was still a decent 11% rise on the previous year, despite a real rollercoaster where some months dipped substantially from the previous year.

    Which made the most gains in the last year?

    FixMyStreet saw the biggest percentage change, with a 21% rise in visitor numbers compared to the previous year; we talked a bit more about that in a recent blog post. WhatDoTheyKnow had the highest rise in actual visitor numbers: over 360,000 up on 2013-14.

    Which fell by the most in the last year?

    TheyWorkForYou saw a 12% drop in visitor numbers year on year (and also the biggest drop in real terms)—disappointing, but something we hope to rectify with the new voting pages, an ongoing process of rolling redesign, and some grassroots outreach.

    How much effect do external events have on visitor numbers?

    Plenty!

    We already know that, as you’d expect, when Parliament is on holiday, MPs, debates and legislation aren’t in the news, and TheyWorkForYou visitor numbers fall. There’s also a weekly pattern for all our sites, where far fewer people use them at the weekends, presumably indicating that lots of our users access them from work.

    It’s too early to say exactly what effect the election has had on our sites: as I write, people are eagerly checking out the voting records of newly-appointed cabinet ministers on TheyWorkForYou.

    One thing we know for sure is that fewer people will have been using WriteToThem, because there have been no MPs to write to for the last few weeks. We’ve removed the “write to your MP” links from TheyWorkForYou, which always drove a good deal of WriteToThem’s traffic.

    FixMyStreet enjoyed a boost back in June, when it was featured on the Channel 4 programme ‘The Complainers’—and the nice thing is, user numbers never receded back to their previous levels after the programme was over. Maybe people just need to use FixMyStreet to see how useful it is.

    How many people visit mySociety’s UK websites in total?

    This is a difficult figure for us to produce with accuracy, because we don’t trace whether you’re the same person visiting a number of our different sites.

    However, the aggregate total of visitors to all our UK sites (WriteToThem, TheyWorkForYou, FixMyStreet and WhatDoTheyKnow) for 2014-15 is 6,983,028. Thanks very much if you were one of them :)

    How can I help?

    Glad you asked! If you find mySociety sites useful, you can help us spread the word by telling friends, sharing the URLs with any groups you are a member of, posting on Facebook or Twitter, or writing to your local paper.

    We have a number of materials for FixMyStreet which can be found here; we hope to create similar materials for our other sites too, and we’ll make sure we announce it on here when we do.

    * Note: all references to ‘users’ refer to unique users within the period discussed. So, users in a year means individual people who may have visited any number of times over that year, but are only counted once; same with monthly users.

    Image: Rodrigo Moraes (CC)

  2. New poster to help with dog-fouling in your area

    fixmystreet-poop-posterIf you have a persistent problem with dog mess on your street, you might like to download this new poster from FixMyStreet and put it in your window—or even print out a few for your neighbours, too.

    Doggy mess is just one of the common street problems you can report on FixMyStreet, and this encourages residents to do just that.

    We hope you like this cheeky poop and his impassioned message. It’s the latest in a series of downloadable print-out materials from FixMyStreet: see the rest here.

     

  3. Boom times for FixMyStreet

    Each of the previous three months has been a record-breaker for FixMyStreet. In January, you made the highest number of reports in the site’s history… until February. And then that record was smashed again in March with over 17,000 reports across the month.

    FixMyStreet has been running since 2007, and it’s enjoyed increasing usage over that time, as you’d expect any site to do organically. The performance in the last few months, though—a 30% rise from the year before—has been notable. We reckon it’s been driven by a couple of factors.

    Grassroots outreach

    At mySociety, we tend not to go for big advertising campaigns (read: we can’t afford them), but you might have noticed that we put quite a bit of effort into spreading the word about FixMyStreet at the beginning of the year.

    Everything we did was low-cost and designed to help us promote the site to as many new people as possible:

    • We offered a number of downloadable posters and other promotional materials (if you haven’t seen these yet, go and take a look; we think they’re pretty nice)
    • We sent our users a stack of branded postcards that they could share with others to let them know about FixMyStreet
    • We also contacted a large number of community newsletters and magazines, serving towns, parishes and villages across the country: perhaps you saw us featured in your local publication.

    Users from council sites

    That all paid off, but there was another source of reports helping us achieve our record figures.

    That source was our client councils, who have FixMyStreet as the primary fault-reporting system on their own sites.

    Eight UK councils currently have FixMyStreet installed, with every report made on via the system on the council site being published on fixmystreet.com, and vice versa.

    Between them they’ve added just over 16,500 reports this year.

    Riding the wave

    So far this year, we’ve seen an overall average of 16,000+ reports per month, and there have been over 50,000 reports since 2015 began.

    Now, let’s hope all those reports get some kind of a response, because as the recent research we collaborated on showed, getting something fixed has the power to turn first-time reporters into conscientious, engaged repeat reporters. And that’s all for the good.

     

    Image: Jamie Taylor (CC)

  4. Local government: you can shape your own responsible citizens

    Image by Troy McColloughWe already know that positive rewards make us more likely to repeat an action. Just like laboratory rats, when something feels good, we do it again.

    Our recent collaboration with a team of researchers at the World Bank goes to show that it’s no different when it comes to civic participation. The team analysed almost 400,000 anonymised FixMyStreet reports to prove the hypothesis that, if a user’s first report is fixed, he or she is more likely to go on and make more.

    So, just as a biscuit may give us a sugary high that we’re keen to experience again and again, the knowledge of having done ‘local public good’ is enough of a hit to bring people back to make another FixMyStreet report. In fact, they are 54% more likely to do so.

    A learning for local government

    What can our councils learn from this research? That responding to a resident’s report may have more than the obvious, immediate effect.

    By fixing a user’s issue, a council is increasing the probability that that citizen will become a regular reporter of issues, and possibly (although this wasn’t covered by the current research) a more engaged citizen all round.

    In short, it’s a two-way street. Ignore a report, and you run the risk of alienating a user enough that they never bother to engage again. Fix it, and you’ve proved the value of making contact.

    Read the full paper here.

     

    Image: Troy McCollough (CC)

  5. 12 exciting projects mySociety was hired to deliver last year

    Image by Craig Sunter

    Not many people realise that we fund a proportion of our charitable work by carrying our commercial development and consultancy work for a wide range of clients.

    Last year, we scoped, developed and delivered a real variety of digital tools and projects. Some of the projects were surprising. Some of them made us gnash our teeth, a bit, as we grappled with new problems. But all of them (and call us geeks if you like) got us very excited.

    Here are just twelve of our personal high points from last year. If you have a project that you think we might be able to help you with in 2015, we’d love to hear from you!

    1. We Changed the Way in Which Parliament Does Digital

    Palace of Westminster by Greg DunlapThis time last year, a small team from mySociety was poring over analytics, interview content and assorted evidence from Parliament projects dating back last 2-3 years, to help us put together a simple set of recommendations to conclude our review.

    11 months later, Parliament have announced their first Head of Digital, fulfilling one of our key recommendations.

    2. We helped the MAS and the FCA protect financial consumers

    Bubble Car by Allen WatkinTwo of our projects helped people financially.

    We built the Money Advice Service’s (MAS) first responsive web application, the Car Cost Calculator.

    This tool takes one simple thing you know (the car you wish to buy) and tells you roughly how much it’ll cost to run that car against any others you might be interested in. It has been one of MAS’ most successful online tools in terms of traffic and conversion.

    We also built the Financial Conduct Authority’s Scam Smart tool, aiming to prevent financial scams.

    This tool helps users considering a financial investment to check a potential investment. Users enter information about the type of investment, how they heard about it and the details of the company offering it to them and get back tailored guidance and suggested next steps to help them ensure the investment is bona fide.

    3. We Gave Power to the People of Panama (soon)

    Alaveteli homepageWorking with the The National Authority for Transparency & Access to Information (ANTAI) and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), we set up our first government-backed instance of our Freedom of Information platform, Alaveteli, in Panama.

    This project will ensure that Panama’s FOI legislation is promoted and used, but it will also shine a light on ANTAI, who are responsible for ensuring ministries and organisations publish their information, and handling case appeals.

    4. We Mapped All the Public Services in Wales

    Bws Ysgol - Image by Aqwis via Wikimedia, CCAfter we extended the Mapumental API to produce data output suitable for GIS (geographical information systems), the Welsh Government were able to map public services in Wales for their Index of Multiple Deprivation calculations.

    Over the course of the year they have calculated travel times for over seventy thousand points of interest.

    5. We Launched a New Organisation in Four Weeks

    Simply SecureSimply Secure approached us in dire need of a brand, an identity and a website to accompany the launch of their new organisation to help the world build user-friendly security tools and technologies.

    Cue four weeks of very intense work for mySociety’s designer, supported by members of the commercial team. And we did it.

    6. We Printed Stuff BIG (and found people jobs)

    Public transport travel times to Birmingham meet-up, from Mapumental by mySocietymySociety developer Dave Arter figured out how to generate A1 sized maps from Mapumental for every job centre in the UK – all 716 of them.

    Xerox will be using these with the DWP to help job seekers find work that is within reach by public transport. As a byproduct, Mapumental now handles high-fidelity print based outputs: get in touch if that is of interest.

    7. We Opened Up Planning Applications

    open-planning-shotWith Hampshire County Council we had the opportunity to build a new application to help assist members of the public and business better understand what was happening around them. For us, it was also the first application in which we worked closely with a provider of a linked data store, in this case Swirrl.

    When Open Planning goes live, it will look to help improve social engagement and the economy of Hampshire through better understanding and transparency of planning data.

    8. We Proved (Again) That FixMyStreet Isn’t All About Potholes

    CollideoscopeAfter a spate of cyclists’ deaths in London last year, we felt that the moment was right to build something that would support cycle safety in the UK.

    We launched Collideoscope on October the 7th with our first sponsor—Barts Charity, with the aim of generating data both on incidents involving cycles, and near misses.

    9. We Helped Launch a Film

    A map of old Norse place namesWe built a tool for the British Museum, to go alongside the general release of Vikings Live. The Norse Names project brought a sense of context and personalisation to a dataset gathered by the University of Nottingham.

    10. We Made Data More Exciting

    To the Trains by Nic McPheeIn 2013, we built an interface to help people explore the data in the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) data explorer  for Passenger Focus.

    This year, they asked us to build something similar for bus users. We’re entering the final week of development now, and the finished product should be launched in March.

    The main aim of this site? To take data that could be considered pretty dry, and make it a lot more engaging.

    11. We Fixed Yet More Potholes

    Fixed, by Tup WandersThis year Warwickshire, East Sussex, Hart & Harrogate joined the list of councils using FixMyStreet as their main street fault reporting platform.

    That means that residents of those places can now make their reports direct from their council’s website, or via FixMyStreet, and either way they’ll have all the benefits of FixMyStreet’s smooth report-making interface.

    12. We Showed Parliament the Way

    Parliament Square by Duncan HarrisAnd so, we end where we began. While Parliament were busy interviewing candidates for their new ‘Head of Digital’ position, we were commissioned to demonstrate what Hansard might look like were a platform like SayIt used instead of the largely print-based publishing mechanisms used today.

    The result was shared internally. While SayIt may not be the end solution for Parliament, it’s great to have had some input into what that solution might be.

    And in 2015…?

    Got a project that you’d like us to be involved in?

    Get in touch and tell us about it.

    Image credits:

    Eggs: Craig Sunter; Parliament: Greg Dunlap; Bubble car: Allen Watkin; To the Trains: Nic McPhee; Potholes: Tup Wanders; Parliament Duncan Harris. All Creative Commons.

     

  6. FixMyStreet goodies

    FixMyStreet flyerWe’ve just put together a brand spanking new page of downloadable FixMyStreet goodies.

    Ever tried to explain FixMyStreet to a friend? Well, now you can thrust a flyer into their hand instead – much easier, and you know they won’t forget the web address.

    Our goodies page includes all sorts of materials, including:

    • posters and flyers to print out at home
    • worksheets with ideas for schools or community groups
    • print-out doggy poop flags (…yes!)
    • artwork and articles that can go in community newsletters

    We hope you will enjoy them – and, of course, we really appreciate each and every time someone makes the effort to help us spread the word about FixMyStreet.

    As a small charity, we don’t have the kind of marketing budget to allow us to buy billboards or TV advertising, so this kind of help  is incredibly useful to us.

    Coming soon

    We’re also considering putting together a small online shop selling physical items in the future, too: batches of FixMyStreet postcards, mugs, hats, bags, etc.

    Let us know if you’d be interested in things like this  – or any other bright ideas for other FixMyStreet-branded goodies you’d like to see. This is a new area for us, and we’re open to suggestions!

     

     

  7. Updates galore

    Delivery by  Niels LinnebergWe’re always quick to shout about it when we’ve added a major new feature to one of our projects, or we’re launching a whole new website.

    All well and good, but mySociety’s developers don’t just roll out the big stuff. Smaller releases are happening all the time, and, as a bunch of them have all come at once, we’ve put together a round-up.

    Oh – and it’s worth saying that your feedback helps us prioritise what we work on. If you’re using any of our software, either as an implementer or a front-end user, and there’s something you think could be better, we hope you’ll drop us a line.

    Here’s what we’ve been doing lately:

    MapIt

    We’ve just released version 1.2 of our postcodes-to-boundaries software.

    The new version adds Django 1.7 and Python 3 support, as well as other minor improvements.

    For the UK, this version now includes October 2014 Boundary-Line support, new OpenStreetMap data, and, crucially for this time of year, Santa’s new postcode (yes, it’s changed, apparently).

    Find MapIt 1.2 here.

    SayIt

    The latest version of our transcript-publishing software, 1.3, adds mainstream support for import from fellow component PopIt (or any Popolo data source). That’s key to making it a truly interoperable Poplus Component.

    SayIt is now also available in Spanish. Additionally, there are improvements around Speakers and Sections, plus this release includes OpenGraph data.

    Many thanks to James of Open North, who contributed improvements to our Akoma Ntoso import.

    Find SayIt 1.3 here.

    PopIt

    Our software for storing, publishing and sharing lists of politicians now has multi-language support in the web-based editing interface as well at the API level.

    We’ve also recently added API support for merging the records of two people, and the API can now be used over SSL/TLS.

    Full details are on the Poplus mailing list.

    Alaveteli

    Release 0.20 of our Freedom of Information platform sees improvements both to the Admin interface and to the front-end user experience.

    Administrators will be pleased to find easier ways to deal with spammy requests for new authorities, and manage the categories and headings that are used to distinguish different types of authority; users should enjoy a smoother path to making a new request.

    Full details can be seen here.

    FixMyStreet

    Version 1.5 of the FixMyStreet platform fully supports the new Long Term Support (LTS) version of Ubuntu, Trusty Tahr 14.04.

    Four new languages – Albanian, Bulgarian, Hebrew, and Ukranian – have been added. There are also some improvements across both admin and the front-end design, and a couple of bugs have been fixed.

    Full details are here.

    Feedback

    Whatever mySociety or Poplus software you’re deploying, we hope these improvements make life easier. Please do stay in touch – your feedback is always useful, whether it’s via the Poplus mailing list (MapIt, PopIt, SayIt), the FixMyStreet community or the Alaveteli community.

    Image: Niels Linneberg (CC)

  8. Research on the impact of mySociety’s digital tools

    Nick SouthallIn a recent blog post, we summarised the research we commissioned from the University of Manchester’s Rachel Gibson, Marta Cantijoch and Silvia Galandini, on whether or not our core UK websites have an impact.

    The full research paper is now available, and you can download it here pdf.

    Professor Rachel Gibson says: “This research presents a unique and valuable insight into the users of online resources such as FixMyStreet and WhatDoTheyKnow.

    “Through applying a highly original methodology that combines quantitative and in-depth qualitative data about people’s experience of mySociety sites over time, we provide a picture of how eDemocracy tools are contributing to activism at the local level.

    “We thank all those that contributed to this important study and mySociety for their co-operation in developing this highly rewarding and academically rigorous project.”

    Our thanks to Rachel, Marta and Silvia for conducting this research, which utilised methods not previously used in the civic tech field. We hope that it will prove a useful foundation to our own further research, and that of others.

    Image: Nick Southall (CC)

  9. FixMyStreet: celebrating our users’ eloquence

    Beautifully crafted prose: it’s not generally the first thing on your mind when you’re contacting the council about potholes, overflowing bins, or a faulty streetlight.

    And yet, some FixMyStreet users clearly take a certain delight in the art. Today, we’d like to bring you ten FixMyStreet reports that go above and beyond the usual calibre of citizen-to-council communication, and ascend almost to the level of… dare we say, art?

    1. The clanking manhole

     Eric Konon

    Image: Eric Konon (CC)

    Last night I conjured a horde of Spartan warriors smashing their shields with copies of the Highway Code. I believe that’s what they call an involuntary metaphor.

    Michael bought a flat near the main road. He didn’t mind, until one day, a manhole started clanking… and clanking… Read the whole report here.

    2. The missing road sign

    Chris in Plymouth

    Image: Chris in Plymouth (CC)

    The posts designed to proudly hold aloft the road name, guiding lost wanderers towards their destination, stand forlornly, relics from a forgotten age, their purpose lost to the mists of time.

    The initial report is nothing out of the ordinary – it’s in the updates that this Hythe resident starts really going to town. Read the whole report here.

    3. Roland Rat

    Image by Gareth

    Image: Gareth (CC)

    Ten days on, he stinks and if he gets any flatter from vehicles running over him, I’ll stick a stamp on him and post him.

    A concerned citizen of Appledore left a dead rat in situ, just to see what would happen. Read the full report here.

    4. Superdog

    Melanie Cook

    Image: Melanie Cook (CC)

    Maybe laid by a new breed of super dog. It is still steaming and has been there for weeks.

    Need we explain the context for this one? In fact, there’s little more to it than you see quoted above, but with imagery like that, who needs reams of prose? See the whole report here.

    5. Battling gulls of Cardiff

    John HaslamImage: John Haslam (CC)

    Splattered birds on the road, presumably […] too exhausted after battling with piercing the hardy black plastic, to get to the riches within, to attempt fly away to safety.

    This anonymous user was fed up with seeing residents put food out in their rubbish, attracting gulls. Read the whole report here.

    6. With a little imagination, any street fault can be a boon

    Ben Osteen

    Image: Ben Osteen (CC)

    I have had my windows open fantasising that I am living on an Italian Piazza with an enormous fountain at its centre.

    One Fulham resident reports a leak; a commenter urges them not to fix it. See the full report here.

    7. Are clowns made of balloons?

    Steve Wilhelm

    Image: Steve Wilhelm (CC)

    It looks like a clown has exploded

    In an otherwise standard report, a Nottingham resident pulls out this extraordinary turn of phrase to describe the detritus left after a water balloon fight. Read the full report here.

    8. Happy Easter

    Kate Hiscock

    Image: Kate Hiscock (CC)

    PLEASE stop moving the bin. PLEASE keep it in ONE place *next* to the path. Not a meter away from the path, not two meters away from the path and not in the daffodils against the wall, but actually next to the path where people can reach it.

    Actually, it’s not the main body of this Coldstream report itself; it’s more the polite sign-off coming straight after a rant. Very British. Read the full report here.

    9. A poor, innocent mini roundabout sign

    James ButlerImage: James Butler (CC)

    If I didn’t know better, I’d worry [it] had been done by the Incredible Hulk after someone had made him very angry.

    This Brighton mini roundabout sign has a few worries. Read the full report here.

    10. Stinky bin

    Henry Lydecker

    Image: Henry Lydecker (CC)

    A bin here smells like the devil’s halitosis

    Another wonderful turn of phrase from a Plymouth FixMyStreet user in this short, but amply descriptive, post. See the full report here.

    You don’t have to be a great author to make a report on FixMyStreet

    Your prose may not be as purple as in the examples above, but that doesn’t matter.

    In fact, if you keep reports clear, polite, and accurate, you’ll still run a good chance of getting things fixed.

    Giving council workers – and FixMyStreet readers – a good laugh? That’s optional.

    Make a report on FixMyStreet now

  10. How to publish local FixMyStreet reports onto your Facebook page

    If you run a Facebook page or group for a local community, you might like to add a FixMyStreet feed. This will publish recent reports, made within the geographic area that you define, as posts on your Facebook page,  like this:

    FixMyStreet on a Facebook page

    Adding a FixMyStreet feed to your Facebook page is not difficult, but you do need to be an administrator for the page you want it on.

    Also, it is a multi-step procedure. In other words, you might like to fetch yourself a cup of tea before following along with the instructions below.

    Here’s what to do:

    1. Visit FixMyStreet.com and locate the area you want a feed for

    Does your Facebook page deal with a particular city or town, or an area within that town?

    You’ll probably want to publish the FixMyStreet reports that are made within that area. The wider the area you choose, the more reports you will be publishing, so think carefully about what your followers will actually want to see on your Facebook stream.

    Once you’ve decided, locate that area on FixMyStreet by putting a postcode or place name into the box on the homepage. It doesn’t need to be precise; you just need to locate any spot within the area that you want to cover.

    find area on FixMyStreet

    You’ll be taken to a page showing all recent reports for the surrounding area.

    Local area on FixMyStreet

    Don’t worry if this isn’t the exact area that you want your feed to cover, so long as you’re at a point within that area – we’re going to refine that in the next step.

    You can click and drag the map or zoom in and out if you’re not quite within the area that you want to be.

    2. Create your feed

    At the very foot of the FixMyStreet page, below the list of reports on the left, you’ll see a little icon marked “get updates”. Click on this.

    get updates from FixMyStreet

    You now have the choice of several options. You can get a feed for:

    – All problems reported within 2km, 5km, 10km or 20km, or within a population of roughly 200,000 people

    – All problems reported to your local council

    – All problems reported within the ward of your council

    Choose which option most closely matches the area that your Facebook page deals with, and click the green button marked ‘Give me an RSS feed’.

    Pick your FixMyStreet feed

    3. Grab the URL

    Your feed page will look something like this:

    FixMyStreet RSS feed

    It’s basically just the data from FixMyStreet, with none of the site’s styling or functionality around it. This is what we need Facebook to grab and publish on your page.

    You will need the URL (web address) of this page in a short while – just keep it open while you go through the next steps.

    4. Log into Facebook

    You don’t need to be logged in as the page that you want the feed on; it’s fine just to be logged in as yourself, the administrator of that page.

    5. Connect an RSS app to your Facebook page In order to publish FixMyStreet reports, you’ll be using what’s called an RSS feed – a stream of data that can be picked up and published anywhere else. In this case, the data stream is found on what you saw in step 3: the ‘bare bones’ FixMyStreet page; and the target for publication is your Facebook page.

    Facebook itself does not provide a way to publish RSS feeds, so we’re going to use a third-party app. The one we’ve identified is called RSS Graffiti and you can find it here.

    RSS Graffiti have created a video to demonstrate the following steps (and I’ve also explained them in writing below, with specific instructions for using FixMyStreet as a source):

    Install this app by clicking ‘OK’ on each of the three permissions pop-ups.

    Facebook permissionsFacebook permissionsFacebook permissions

    6. Set up your feed

    Click on ‘Create publishing plan’. Give your plan a name – ‘FixMyStreet’ is the obvious one in this case.

    Screenshot 2014-11-19 14.00.55

    Every publishing plan needs a source (where the data is coming from) and a target (where it will be published).

    Your source is that web address we found on FixMyStreet earlier. Click on ‘new source’ and enter it into the URL box. You’ll need to take out the http://www portion of the web address, so that it just starts with ‘fixmystreet.com‘ – so for example, mine might be fixmystreet.com/rss/reports/Brighton+and+Hove.

    Screenshot 2014-11-19 14.03.54

    Click ‘add source’ and wait. I found that this stage sometimes times out, but succeeds eventually if you try again.

    Screenshot 2014-11-19 14.04.10

    Now you can set up your feed however you like it – or just leave the defaults in place. Don’t worry too much, though, because you can come back and tweak all the settings at any time.

    This interface allows you to pick a title for your feed, and add a message to every item it publishes: probably a good idea, because it helps give context to these posts that are going to appear in your Facebook stream.

    FixMyStreet reports are often written in the first person, so if they appear without a title or explanation, they may look as if they are posts from you yourself – take a look at the example at the top of this post and you’ll see what I mean.

    Screenshot 2014-11-19 14.05.40

    While you are in this interface, you may wish to set a maximum number for how many posts can be made at once.

    In the area I chose, we only get about one report a fortnight, so the quantity isn’t really a concern – but if you are covering a large geographical area, consider placing a cap on the number.

    Note that your feed will not start publishing out until the next report is made on FixMyStreet, unless you select a start date that is in the past – you can do this on the ‘advanced’ tab.

    Screenshot 2014-11-19 14.05.59

    Save your settings. Now it’s time to set the target – the page that your feed will be published on.

    Click ‘new target’ and choose ‘Facebook’.

    Screenshot 2014-11-19 14.06.14

    You’ll then be given a list of all your Facebook pages. These will include your own personal page, and any page that you have admin rights for.

    Screenshot 2014-11-19 14.06.23

    There are some formatting options – I just went for the default – and then click ‘save changes’.

    Just one final step: you need to click the ‘OFF’ button to change it to ‘ON’, and set your feed running. You can return to this page at anytime to set it back to ‘OFF’ if you so desire.

    Screenshot 2014-11-19 14.06.42

    RSS Graffiti say that it can take up to 30 minutes for your feed to start publishing onto your page – in my experiments, I found that it was actually quite a bit longer than this, but when I returned the next day, it had started working.

    Do let us know in the comments below if you go ahead and install this functionality – plus any tips you might have.

    By the way, you can use this method to publish any RSS feed to your Facebook page, so you could also publish anything from blog posts to YouTube videos, so long as you can find the RSS source, which is usually signaled by that little orange icon: rss