Here’s an innovative program that promotes citizen engagement and government responsiveness: In Arvada, CO, citizens can use a new, free iPhone application to report potholes that need filling, barking dogs that need quieting, and graffiti that needs removing.
Arvada, with a population of 107,361 is in the Denver metro area. The town is among 22 municipalities who launched the program on February 1. According to Arvada’s website:
iPhone users simply open the app, select an issue, and take a picture – the app knows the exact location and who can fix it. You can now truly connect with someone who can help – on the go and around the clock – without making a trip or phone call to Arvada City Hall.
The GPS and camera features built into the iPhone make it simple to alert Arvada officials about a variety of issues around the clock. When you tap the send button, your iPhone sends a photo and the precise location directly to the right person, who can easily find and fix the issue.You’ll know that your issue went to the right person without ever going to an office or sitting down at a computer, and you can also receive status updates on your issues.The app can be downloaded from the iPhone App Store by searching for GORequest.
[In addition, the application "knows" if the notification is coming from outside the Arvada service area and notifies the sender that his/her request is invalid.]
Arvada’s program started slowly, but is building momentum, says Michele Hovet, the city’s information-technology director. “We’ve had about 20 notifications so far. They were sporadic at first, but now they’re coming in a little more like one a day to 2 days.”
Gloria Shur Bilchik is a freelance writer and community volunteer in St. Louis, Missouri. She is the editor of Occasional Planet. She views the preservation of progressive values as vital to making the US a humane, livable place for her children and grandchildren.