1. What you’ll notice on FixMyStreet 3.0

    We recently released version 3.0 of the open source software which FixMyStreet runs on.

    This brings some substantial improvements to the code. The update is available to anyone running a site on the FixMyStreet platform, which includes our own fixmystreet.com; the installations we provide for councils and authorities; and the FixMyStreet instances run by others, in places from Australia to Uruguay.

    If you run a site on the FixMyStreet platform yourself, or are just interested in the technical details, you can read the release notes here.

    Meanwhile, here’s a rundown of the new front-end features you might notice if you’re a user of FixMyStreet.

    Run the site as an app

    FixMyStreet can now be added to phones (and desktops for that matter) as a ‘progressive app’. Here’s what to look for when you visit fixmystreet.com:

    On Chrome for Android:

    Installing FixMyStreet on Chrome on Android

    Access from the bar at the bottom of the screen.

    On iOS:

     

    Share button on iOs

    Click the share icon at the foot of the screen.

    Add to homescreen

    Then select  ‘add to home screen’.

    On Firefox for Android:

    Installing FixMyStreet on Firefox for Android

    Look for the pop up notification or tap the home icon with a plus sign in it in the URL bar.

    Any of these methods will install a version of FixMyStreet that will behave like an app, placing an icon on your desktop, browser start page or home screen.

    This way there is no need to download or update from the app store, and changes to the main website (which are invariably released sooner than on the app) will be immediately available to you.

    Cobrands (for example the councils that use FixMyStreet as part of their own websites, and people running FixMyStreet in their own countries) can provide their own logo and colourscheme as well.

    Mobile browser improvements

    Whether you install the progressive web app or just visit fixmystreet.com on your mobile browser, you may notice some nice new features.

    • If you use the geolocation function (‘use my location’), your position will be displayed on the map:Marker showing user's location on FixMyStreet when viewed on a mobile browser
    • When viewing an area, you can access the filters to narrow the reports displayed down by their status (fixed/open etc) and category:Filter options on FixMyStreet's mobile browser interface
    • If you’re about to report something that looks like a duplicate, you’ll not only be shown the report/s that have already been made, but you’ll also see a small inline map without having to scroll back to the main map to check where they are.
    • The site recognises that when you’re on a mobile, the message about uploading a photo shouldn’t invite you to ‘drag and drop’, but rather to either take a new one or select a photo from your phone.Prompt to add a photo on FMS app
    • If you’ve placed the pin incorrectly, the ‘try again’ process is clearer.

    Sharing reports 

    If a picture paints a thousand words, then your Twitter character count just went stratospheric. Now, when you share a report on places like Twitter or Facebook, if there’s a photo included in the report, that will also be pulled through.

    Previously, the ‘open graph image’ that was shown by default was the same for every report  — which could get a bit boring in aggregate, and certainly missed some of the impact that people might want to share when they’re posting about their own, or others’ reports.

    Tweet showing a picture pulled through from a FixMyStreet report

    Social media isn’t the only place that FixMyStreet reports can be piped to, though — the site also has several RSS capabilities that have been baked in since its early days.

    For those not totally up to speed with RSS and what it can do, we’re now no longer displaying them as raw XML but as a nice simple web page that explains its purpose.

    To see this in action, click ‘Local Alerts’ in the top menu of any page. Here’s a before and after:

    FixMyStreet RSS feeds before and after a design refresh

    What benefits one, benefits all

    Much of this work is thanks to NDI, the National Democratic Institute.

    NDI offer the FixMyStreet codebase as one of their DemTools, installing it in countries around the world as an innovation which empowers citizens to keep their neighbourhoods clean and safe.

    Thanks to this partnership, NDI funded the addition of new features which they had identified as desirable — and which, thanks to the open codebase, will benefit users of every FixMyStreet site worldwide.

    There are some other significant additions in this release, including integration, back end and security improvements, all of which will be of most interest to developers and site admins — so if you’d like to see them, head over to the full write up on the FixMyStreet platform blog.

    Image: Max Fuchs

  2. Parliaments, People and Digital Development seminar

    On 21st November we will host a seminar at the House of Lords exploring how digital tools are being used in Sub-Saharan Africa to bring parliaments and citizens closer together.

    During the seminar, we will be launching our Parliaments and the People: Digital Democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa report, which presents the findings from an extensive and in-depth research study into digital democracy across Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda. This research explores the use of digital channels and platforms in communicating political information in the region, and considers the implications for future development in digital and institution-building.

    The report analyses the breadth of digital political engagement in the countries studied, and identifies key structural and cultural considerations that influence whether digital solutions to improving democratic engagement, transparency and accountability in governing institutions will be successful.

    The findings of this report are more relevant than ever to those interested and involved in international development and institution-building, through which policy implementations digital solutions are being increasingly embedded.

    The seminar will bring together researchers, policy makers and practitioners to discuss how the insights from this and other work can be integrated into policy, engagement and future development work.

    Speakers:

    • Hosted by Lord Purvis of Tweed & Mark Cridge, CEO mySociety
    • Dr Rebecca Rumbul, Head of Research, mySociety (Report author)
    • Gemma Moulder, Partnership Development Manager, mySociety (Report author)
    • Paul Lenz, Trust Executive, Indigo Trust
    • Julia Keutgen, Parliamentary Development Advisor, Westminster Foundation for Democracy
    • Two further speakers will be announced soon.

    Date/time: 21st November 4pm – 6pm.

    As capacity is limited, attendance to the event is by invitation only. If you’re interested in attending please email  to request an invite and we’ll let you know full details.