Funny coincidence, because I’d been getting increasingly pissed off by fly-tipping on my street and the failure of the local council to clear it (despite the fact that street cleaning staff pass it daily). Glasgow City Council’s own online reporting service is so very flat, form-based and practically impossible to find that my mind turned to alternatives.
The big difference between them is in the looks department – Community Fix has a far better user interface and uses Google Maps which helps, whereas FixMyStreet is simple and functional but very brown and seems to be using quite outdated maps.
The big similarity between them is that neither service can guarantee that the problem will get fixed.
I think this is the fundamental flaw in both. Both sites have good technology going on, but they haven’t thought through the process as well as they could.
The tactic seems to be to shame council into doing something. I was on the selection panel that looked at the [successful] FixMyStreet funding application to the Ministry of Justice ‘innovations fund’, and I made the point then that a far more sustainable approach would be to make the funding dependent on MySociety partnering up with a sample of councils to test and develop not only the technology but also the service. A different point of view won out and, well, that’s where King’s article comes in.
Inspired by the article I’m running my own experiment. I’ve reported the same problem via both third-party sites and the Council’s own, and I will do my best to track the service and, crucially, if anything gets done.
Already in the time it’s taken me to type this up, I can confirm that I have received receipt emails from only two… no prizes, yes, FixMyStreet and Community Fix. Community Fix came in first, and strangely says that the Council is not only aware of the problem but is dealing with it – this is despite the fact that I’d not yet confirm the report via their link, and there was a disclaimer on the email saying that they couldn’t guarantee anything.
That reminds me – I’ve got an bunch of tyres and washing machines I need to offload.