Tuesday, September 23, 2014
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High-tech program empowers citizens

Bob Horky, owner of Mill House Lodge in Flat Rock, knew he needed to call the city of Hendersonville to repair a broken sewer cleanout, but finding the time can be challenging when you're busy running an inn.

Luckily, he recalled a billboard that announced a new Hendersonville program called SeeClickFix.

With a couple of clicks from his smart phone — no phone call, hold time or voice mail — Horky documented the problem with a photo and reported it to Hendersonville's city hall. Even more impressive: The issue was fixed that same day. Communication, including a follow-up photo, was sent via email confirming the resolution of the issue.
Cities have adopted the SeeClickFix technology to make it easier for the community to report problems. Users post about graffiti on road signs, potholes on a busy street or traffic problems and the software communicates the problem to the appropriate city agency. Since the program was founded in 2008, SeeClickFix has expanded to cover more than 25,000 towns and 8,000 neighborhoods, both in the United States and abroad.
There are three basic principles of the SeeClickFix program: Empowerment, Efficiency and Engagement. The powerful trio works to answer residents' complaints or concerns in a timely and efficient manner.

  • The Empowerment concept allows any citizen to report a non- emergency issue via the internet. Residents, community groups, the media and governmental agencies are empowered to care for and improve their neighborhoods.
  • Efficiency is a much sought after goal in all departments of government. With the SeeClickFix program, there is virtually no wasted time as a concern is instantly communicated to the appropriate agency to resolve the issue.
  • Getting engaged: Citizens who have easy access to an easy fix are more likely to become and stay active in their local community. It's a self- reinforcing behavior.

"This tool allows Hendersonville residents to become the eyes and ears of the City," said City Manager Bo Ferguson. "Issues can be reported more quickly and more accurately, and the system follows the problem until it is addressed."

Since Hendersonville's program rolled out early in September, residents have used the mobile phone based software reported several problems, including a pond "so bad the ducks won't even go in it." Using SeeClickFix, the user reported the eyesore and after the initial click, it was routed, acknowledged and addressed. That specific issue was addressed on SeeClickFix with the city staff comments: "We added an all-natural, biodegradable pond treatment today. We will monitor its condition over the next few weeks to see if this product helps."