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St. Pete, Pinellas County SeeClickFix app used as a national model

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete’s SeeClickFix app is being used as a national model. The group Emerging Local Government Leaders hosted officials from St. Pete and Pinellas County in a webinar earlier this week to talk about the program’s success.

“You guys are well ahead of the curve when it comes to civic engagement,” a moderator said at the beginning of a 45-minute podcast.

The web app is available for St. Pete and Pinellas County residents to report problems in their area like potholes, graffiti, broken sidewalks, storm drain issues, traffic signal/sign problems, special pick-up of dumped items or code violations.

Residents input information about things like location and what the problem is and that information is then forwarded to the appropriate department. The city had a previous system for allowing residents to report problems, but this app engages the person filing the report by allowing them to receive email updates on the progress of resolving their problem.

David Flintom represented the City of St. Petersburg in the webinar. He called the city’s old system “antiquated.”

“We were looking to improve our service to our citizens,” Flintom said.

He said not only does the new app allow the city to communicate with the citizen, it also allows residents to communicate with each other and lets the city compile complaint data to improve services.

Flintom and two representatives from the county were invited to participate in a SeeClickFix webinar to demonstrate the success of the program. The app is available to any local governments that want to use it

“The goal is to get everyone on the same platform with the same categories, ownership, routing, etc. Everyone can have their own autonomy while collectively leveraging the same backend intelligence,” said Michael Roiland, who works for the county.

St. Pete and Pinellas have integrated the systems and cooperated with one another.

“Being the eyes of our community, [citizens] can see things we can’t see and they can send it to us so quick…and somebody is going to make sure it gets to the right department, municipality, agency, etc.,” said Pinellas County’s Stella Mansfield.

The app not only allows users to issue their own complaints, but also allows citizens to view complaints that have been filed as well as their status.

For example, a user reported multiple potholes along a stretch of 2nd Street North near 100th Avenue at about noon Thursday. The report shows how many people reported it or “want it fixed,” when the complaint was filed and allows citizens to share the problem on Facebook, Twitter or Google plus.

The idea is to provide transparency in government and to make citizens feel like their concerns are not only being heard, but are also being promptly addressed.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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