Bridgeport Saw It And Fixed It
New Haven Independent, February 1, 2019
by CCM staff
Municipalities need to adapt to changing technologies to keep up with their residents.
When Bridgeport wanted to modernize their 311 system, they looked no further than 30 minutes up the coast to New Haven where SeeClickFix is revolutionizing municipal reporting systems.
Tom Gaudett, the special projects director for Bridgeport, and Tucker Serverson, director of products for SeeClickFix, stopped by WNHH’s “The Municipal Voice” to chat about these innovations.
While they are commonplace now, 311 lines are a thing of the not so distant past. First popping up in Baltimore in 1996, they were initially meant to respond to overwhelmed 911 lines. According to citylab.com, constituents “were encouraged to call 311 for complaints such as illegal dumping, double- parked cars, or anything else that requires police attention, but not an immediate response.”
Years later, SeeClickFix leads the way in online reporting systems after launching an online system in New Haven. The startup grew by working with towns not just in Connecticut but across the country, including successful outputs in Detroit, Houston, and Oakland, and adding an app for mobile use, which is how nearly half of people access the internet on a daily basis.
Bridgeport saw these successes right in their backyard and decided they needed to step up their offerings.
“311 apps, really revolutionized quality of life issues in a city like our own,” said Gaudett. “You can imagine back in the day, people used to make a phone call to city government.”
But how did that phone call get processed? “You wouldn’t know what the follow up might be,” Gaudett said.
Increases efficiencies back to top
Bridgeport saw this as an opportunity to increase the efficiencies of their town services, as well as making issues transparent with the residents. Severson gave as an example the axle-breaking potholes for which Connecticut roads are known. If a town or city is out fixing potholes, they can use the internal mapping system to find other potholes in the area. Gaudett said that with heatmaps and other tools, they don’t have to handle these problems individually, but they are able to “sort and prioritize issues.”
During a recent episode of “Dateline Hamden,” Mayor Curt Leng noted that he was able to get a concerned residents pothole filled in less than a day after communicating with her via social media, which brought up citizen expectations in our discussion.
“I think that citizens have high expectations of city government,” Gaudett said, “I think that this tool allows cities to do better. When they use the app, they anticipate that we’re going to do something about it.”
The data remains there for all to see: potholes that were filled, and blight that needs to be addressed. Bridgeport residents can see exactly how their city is moving on these issues and, according to Gaudett, they are going to hold government accountable.
Bridgeport modernized their 311 offerings, making it easier for their residents to report issues in their municipality. SeeClickFix, as a leader in mobile 311 services, was able to offer the city something to increase efficiency and making their services more transparent with their residents, and bring them into the 21 st century.