If you’re reporting an issue on Buckinghamshire Council’s FixMyStreet installation, you might have seen yellow dots appearing on the map. These represent items such as streetlights, bins or drains, and we blogged about it when we first added the feature.
When it comes to assets like streetlights, it can save the council considerable time and effort if your report tells them precisely which light needs fixing: it’s far quicker to find an identified light than it is to follow well-meaning but perhaps vague descriptions like ‘opposite the school’!
But even when the assets are marked on a map, it’s not always easy for a user to identify exactly which one they want to report, especially if they’ve gone home to make the report and they’re no longer standing right in front of it.
After the system had been in place for a few weeks, the team at Buckinghamshire told us that users often weren’t pinpointing quite the right streetlight. So we thought a bit more about what could be done to encourage more accurate reports.
As you might have noticed, streetlights are usually branded with an ID number, like this:Buckinghamshire, as you’d expect, holds these ID numbers as data, which means that we were able to add it to FixMyStreet. Now when you click on one of the dots, you’ll see the number displayed, like this:
The same functionality works for signs, Belisha beacons, bollards and traffic signals, as well as streetlights. Each of them has their own unique identifier.
So, if you’re in Bucks and you want to make a report about any of these things, note down the ID number and compare it when you click on the asset. This means the correct information is sent through the first time — which, in turn, makes for a quicker fix. Win/win!
This type of functionality is available to any council using FixMyStreet Pro: find out more here.
Header image: Luca Florio
Local government has a need for all kinds of services, from taxis to stationery. And to ensure that they get the best deals, they acquire them through a procurement process—one that, as suppliers of software to councils, we’ve become very familiar with ourselves.
It’s quite simple: every category of goods or services has its own ID number. You identify the ones that are closest to what you provide—so in our case, it might be software development, software consultancy, and the provision of software packages.
Then you sign up to receive notifications every time a council puts out a request for tenders that fall within one of those categories.
Our newest team member, Camilla, has been spending a lot of time signing up for these notifications across all the various platforms in the UK (buy her a drink if you see her: procurement websites might just be amongst the most infuriating and clunky known to man), and as a result, she’s noticed that as well as all the categories you’d expect, there are also plenty more that you wouldn’t.
For example, who knew that councils had such a regular need for
15112310 Foie gras
98331000 Turkish bath services
16710000 Pedestrian-controlled agricultural tractors
35321100 Hand guns
and as if that’s not enough…
35321300 Machine guns
There are plenty more categories that might make you go ‘hmm’ – take a look for yourself.
Oh, and here’s a thought – if you’d like to ask your own local council what their expenditure is on nightwear, foie gras or machine guns, you can do so very easily at our own WhatDoTheyKnow.com.
The idea is that people can use the Global Cool website as a central place to manage reducing or offsetting their carbon emissions, and recording and competing for how much they have done so. There’ll be tools like carbon counters, systems to track when you change electricity company, and so on. PledgeBank comes into this as another set of actions Global Cool people can take, both making and signing pledges which reduce their CO2 footprint.
Global Cool Foundation UK, the new charity behind it, only got their funding recently, and so as Gavin explains have had to build the site in phenomenal time. We got login intergration with PledgeBank working in the early hours of this morning. It works, but there are some missing features, and it still needs lots of polishing. The integration is needed so later you can be credited for signing and doing a pledge on the main part of the Global Cool site.
The “microsites” file in the PledgeBank source code is even more complicated now, with authentication hooks. Basically, the PledgeBank part of Global Cool runs on a subdomain of their domain, being pledge.global-cool.com. This is so it can read the Global Cool cookies for authentication. The pledges themselves are in the same database, so they can be shared with the rest of the site later.
We can happily syndicate or theme PledgeBank in all sorts of ways for your site. We charge for this via our trading arm. Any profit (not really any yet!) going back into running the main PledgeBank service for free, and to run mySociety.