Image by Ed Webster: flooding on Abingdon Road, OxfordEvery council faces its own challenges when dealing with fault report management. For Oxfordshire County Council, a significant one is the sheer size of the geographic area they cover, and their large, dispersed population.

Both are factors in the large quantity of reports Oxfordshire processes each year — an incredible 15,000.

Of course, every report needs investigating. Most need fixing. Citizens need responses. Whether that’s done in-house or via contractors, at this level of operations, none of that comes cheap.

It was very much in Oxfordshire’s interest to find a more cost-effective strategy for their fault report managing system.

Opening up

Oxfordshire are a progressive authority: they’ve even won awards for their ‘digital by default’ approach to service provision. So it may come as no surprise that they were also our first client to embrace the Open311 protocol.

In 2014 they gave the green light for us to integrate their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) service Exor into FixMyStreet via Open311. This open standard allows any external service to submit reports through to the council CRM, and means that the door is never closed to new or additional report-making services.

Exor is just one of the many services with which we can integrate in this way  — see our FixMyStreet for Councils page to view the full range.

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Continued progress

Simple though it is, FixMyStreet for Councils is never a straight off-the shelf package. We’re always involved in the set-up, whether we’re integrating with an in-house CRM, or simply tweaking templates so that the reporting interface looks exactly like the rest of the council website.

Nor does the relationship end at delivery. We offer staff training, and our support team is, of course, available to give further guidance when staff need it. In the case of Oxfordshire, we enjoyed an unusually close partnership which allowed us to collaborate further over the next few years, developing the service and adding features based on their feedback.

Over the course of three years, we introduced features which will now be offered as standard to all clients — and are also available to those who have implemented the open source FixMyStreet platform all around the world. These include the ability to moderate reports on-page, and to filter lists by multiple values, so that, for example, you can see all reports your selected categories (eg potholes, graffiti, etc) which also have your selected status (eg ‘fixed’, ‘in progress’, etc).

FixMyStreet now features automated acknowledgement of reports, so that response staff aren’t tied up with a task that can be handled perfectly well by an email server. And we developed a more complex statistics dashboard, to answer council managers needs to see how long each report was taking to go through to a fix, and what quantity of reports were being made in any given period of time.

Massive strides

In 2016 we entered into a landmark partnership with Oxfordshire to develop a richer layer of service still, expanding FixMyStreet for Councils from a resident-focused reporting and communication platform to a full case management service.

We worked with council staff to develop specialised applications for the Customer Services, Inspectors and Maintenance teams, so now Oxfordshire  can use FixMyStreet to handle a problem from the initial report, right through to instructing a contractor and getting it fixed.

Oxfordshire secured the necessary funding to support this development based on projected cost savings made in the management of issues.

Over 50% of their budget was previously spent on the management overheads, so considerable savings are on offer: budget that can now be put towards the actual fixing of issues, rather than lost in internal processes.

Need FixMyStreet on your council website? Get in touch

Image credit: Ed Webster (CC-by/2.0)