App helps task council workers

Monday, 05 February, 2018

App helps task council workers

A new app released by The City of Newcastle enables members of the public to pinpoint damage to public property and quickly assign council officers to fix it.

Utilising GPS technology in smartphones and tablets, the digital tasking system is now available on the free My Local Services app and represents the biggest improvement in customer service in council’s long history.

The app means members of the public can use their smartphone to identify public toilets, swimming pools, parks, medical centres, libraries and sporting fields in need of maintenance or repair.

The app can even provide reminder notifications for when to put out garbage bins.

“I’ve been counting the days for several months until we could share this smartphone technology with the community,” said Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes.

“This app is going to change the way the community and the council communicate with each other, and will dramatically improve our customer service,” she said.

“I hope other councils and utilities follow our lead, recognising that through technology we can become a smart, livable and sustainable city.”

One of the app’s interactive features is a ‘report it’ tool that enables members of the public to quickly flag an issue for actioning.

The app sends GPS data from smartphones to the council’s operations software, which then allocates tasks to relevant staff to resolve in a timely manner.

“If you see a pothole in the road or a tree branch that’s fallen in a park, just snap a pic, hit send on the app and the issue will be delivered straight to our roads or parks crews,” Lord Mayor Nelmes said.

“The days of having to call our contact centre or send an email are now effectively over,” she added.

“While we will continue to provide multiple ways for the community to contact council, your smartphone reduces the customer effort to click and send, and also allows council to review the issue far more quickly.”

The My Local Service app provides an extensive local events calendar, as well as contact information for councillors, notifications about council meetings, emergency alerts, road works/closures and the location of nearby community centres, camping grounds, hospitals and medical centres, libraries, museums, sporting facilities, swimming pools, public toilets and walking trails.

The app’s efficiencies are among a range of promising developments envisaged by the Newcastle Smart City Strategy adopted by the council in July last year.

The strategy outlines an ambitious council-led collaboration to diversify the regional economy and encourage innovation while attracting investment and slowing the Hunter’s decades-long brain drain.

The free app can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play.

Image courtesy The City of Newcastle.

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