In the nine days our Fix Before the Freeze campaign has been running, there’s been a 47% increase in reports on FixMyStreet.com. Thank you to everyone who has spread the word or remembered to use the site to get something fixed.
As you may remember, the campaign encourages you to report problems such as broken streetlights or potholes before winter comes. It’s great to see this start to happen, and we hope you’ll experience the benefits once the cold weather takes grip. Hey, you might even find that the warm glow of community spirit cuts a few quid from your fuel bills…
Meanwhile, we’re sure there are still plenty of pavements, roads and amenities that could do with a patch-up before winter. So if there’s a gap on a notice board near you, don’t forget our print-outs and resources here. How about printing out a few and leaving them in your local library, cafe, or community centre?
You may already be aware of our website FixMyStreet.com, which helps you report common street problems – such as potholes and uneven pavements – to the relevant local council. This year, we thought we’d give people a gentle nudge before winter comes.
Many of the 1,000 issues which the site deals with every week are of the sort which are far better seen to before the big freeze. Potholes only worsen with the frost, and no-one wants a dodgy streetlight once the long dark nights are here.
How to join Fix Before the Freeze
- Check for problems Will your walk home from work tonight be in the dark? Look out for areas that could be better lit or paths that might cause people to stumble in the dark.
- Report it If you see something that is better fixed before the freeze, now’s the time to let your council know. It only take a minute at FixMyStreet.com.
- Spread the word We’ve created the image above as a website icon, flier, and poster. Follow the links at the foot of this post to download them, or use the code if you’d prefer to link back. Why not put one on your blog, hand them out at work, or stick one in your window? Please spread the word among friends and family too.
- Spread the word further We’d be grateful for mentions on your preferred social media hang-out (you can use the #FB4TF hashtag).
Let’s get our local communities as safe as they can be, before the cold weather hits.
Click on each thumbnail to be taken to the actual-size resource, then right click or ctrl+click to save a copy to your hard drive.
A4 sheet of fliers to print out:
Poster to print out:
Badge for your blog or website (165×165 pixels):
(If you’d like a larger image, feel free to save the one at the top of this post).
HTML for inserting the badge onto your site without downloading – just copy and paste the below into your HTML editor:
<a href=”https://www.mysociety.org/?p=4790″ title=”Find out more about Fix Before the Freeze from FixMyStreet.com”><Img alt=”Fix Before the Freeze – report those dangerous potholes and broken streetlights before winter hits” src=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/fixbeforethefreezebadge165.gif”></a>
FixMyStreet, is, as its name suggests, a system that reports street problems to the relevant local council. But at heart, it’s a problem-reporting system that could be adapted for a multitude of different uses.
For example, with just a few modifications, large institutions such as hospitals could use it for everyone – staff, visitors, patients – to report maintenance issues. Same for universities, especially those spread over large campuses. Supermarket chains could adapt it so that people could report abandoned trolleys – in fact we’ve been admiring an Aussie site that’s way ahead of us on that idea.
We’ve been enjoying thinking of new possible uses, from the practical to the frankly rather ridiculous, but we’re also keen to hear any ideas we might not have thought of. Is there an area in your life – personal or professional – that would be made much easier if you had an easy way to report it on-the-go? What challenges do you see, and why hasn’t it been done before? Ideas below, please.
I’m very excited to announce that the iPhone app for FixMyStreet is now live and available for download on the App Store (link opens the App Store in iTunes). You can now record a problem when out and about with your iPhone, using its camera and GPS, ready for checking and submitting to the council. Hopefully people will find this useful! 🙂
Recently I gave a talk at a conference where I told a group of local government officials that FixMyStreet was built not just to provide cleaner streets for their citizens, but also to force the hands of councils to procure and contract internal IT systems fit for the 21st century. In particular I pointed out that companies like Google seek to have people use their service from any site, any browser and device – they don’t just demand that everyone goes to www.google.com. And, I said, it’s only through building nice interfaces (APIs) that you can become an organisation that realises the benefits for yourself and other organisations from taking this ‘we’re happy to interoperate with anyone’ approach.
Less than three weeks later Michael Houlsby from East Hants council has single-handedly built an external facing API for their faults and problems database. So now FixMyStreet posts problems in that council direct into their database, without them first being translated into emails.
This is fantastic, especially as Michael clearly knocked it together in his spare time, and helps confirm what we’ve said before – if government builds nice interoperable APIs people like mySociety will use them to improve citizens’ experiences, whist simultaniously keeping everyone’s unnecessary workloads and expenses to a minimum. Plus it shows that if your IT supplier tells you you need to sign a new five or six figure contract to add an API to a CRM system you’ve already bought – you’re being jerked around.
Hats off to Michael – you’re a great example of a pro-active public servant using your skills to make government both better and more efficient.
Neighbourhood Fix-It makes it as easy as possible for citizens across
the UKto report local problems like fly tipping, broken lights, graffiti etc, whilst opening the problems up to browsing and public discussion of solutions.
The problem tackled
Councils across the UK do an excellent job of fixing local problems when they’re reported by citizens. However, the model for handling the information is a system of doctor-patient style confidentiality. A citizen who makes a report normally knows about a problem, and so does the council, but there is no general public way of finding out what has been reported or fixed.
Given that the nature of public problems being reported is that they are public, this seems a strange situation.
Neighbourhood Fix-It opens up and democratises the process of discovering and reporting problems, so people can see what other reports have been filed locally using the site, and can leave extra feedback and comments on the problems if they see fit.
In quiet beta test for a few weeks prior to launch, several hundred problems have already been reported across the UK. Fixes by councils so far include:
- Fixed paving slabs
- Redundant estate agent signs removed
- Filled pot holes
- Removed graffiti
Funding and Partnership
The project was funded with £10,000 of support from the Department of Constitutional Affairs Innovations Fund, and is a partnership with the Young Foundation’s Transforming Neighbourhoods Programme, a consortium of 15 local authorities, government departments and community organisations working together on practical ways to give more powers to neighbourhoods.
Tom’s quote from the press release: “Neighbourhood Fix-It aims to change the act of reporting faults – turning it from a private one-to-one process into a public experience where residents can see if anyone else in the neighbourhood has already spotted and reported a problem, and to see how their council is acting on it. We hope the website will make the process of reporting faults more efficient, possibly reducing the number of individual reports that councils receive because people will be able to see that their neighbours have already made the call.”