SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — After about five months, the City of Sioux Falls says an app designed to allow citizens to report problems is making city crews more efficient, and getting things done.
More than 7,000 issues or questions have been reported since the app launched in February.
The above map is a live look at the current requests across the city. (Courtesy: City of Sioux Falls)
“It’s 180,000 more eyes we can have on this stuff, and making it a little easier to report it,” said Dan Friedbauer, Information Technology Analyst with the City of Sioux Falls.
A majority of the issues reported by the public have been related to potholes.
“Every city, state has potholes,” said street operations manager Dustin Hansen.
More than 4,000 of the requests since February have been related to potholes. City data shows on average these potholes are filled in seven days from the moment they’re reported.
“We’re always going to have potholes, give us time, we can generally get it fixed in a week,” Hansen said.
KELOLAND News followed the process of just one pothole reported. This one took longer than the average at 13 days:
Creating a more efficient process for fixing city streets
The app is creating a more efficient experience for the crews in the field.
Patty Steuck was leading a crew fixing potholes on the north side of the City on Wednesday morning. She’s equipped with an iPad in the truck to find each pothole reported by residents.
“It makes it more efficient so you’re not running from one side of town to the other,” Steuck said.
Streets technical clerk Kristin Lobien explains how the iPad in the field is helping the crews.
Adjusting to change
Before the app, people reported potholes with a hotline or an older system online. Hansen said moving to this new platform has been a change for his department.
“It’s one of those things where you have to kind of adjust, but I think our teams have adjusted pretty well,” Hansen said.
There have been user errors as well. City officials gave KELOLAND News some key steps such as taking a photo of the pothole or ensuring the location is accurate.
The app isn’t for everything. A water main break or sewage backup is best called into 211. Just last week, several firework complaints were reported on the app, Friedbauer said. Those should have been called into the non-emergency line for Sioux Falls Police.
Friedbauer and Hansen admit there is more education that needs to be done for residents on how to use the app. Friedbauer says he has been adding in more specific prompts to help get the information needed to best address each type of issue.
Using the data to improve the city long-term
As they move forward, the city plans to capture this data and use it in unique ways.
“We’re working on a thing to where we can actually plot this issues on a map so we can see, this road has got a lot of potholes or we can see a series of streetlights that are going out,” Friedbauer said. “Are they getting old? Is there a voltage issue?”
They will then use this data to plan future long-term projects.
“I think a lot of times the city never really looked at ‘well, who cares if there are 1,000 potholes on this street (over time),’ but it’s something that should be added into the equation that ‘OK, it needs to be added onto a mill and overlay program,'” Hansen said.
It’s not just for roadwork. Using the garbage collection complaints, officials will be able to plan clean-up projects.
“If we see starting to see a neighborhood where we are seeing more and more complaints about that, they might direct that where we need to target Project NICE AND KEEP,” Friedbauer said.
They also plan to add more departments onto the app, like Sioux Falls Police to report graffiti across the city.
Reporting a problem
“One of the mayor’s first things was he wanted to engage citizens, he wanted their feedback, he wanted them to be apart of the process. This gives them an opportunity to do that,” Friedbauer said.