Monday, February 7, 2011

Phone software reports street faults, graffiti

People can now report graffiti, potholes and broken street lamps to councils online and on the spot with their smartphones thanks to Kiwi-developed mapping software.

One of the applications is being used to help with the Queensland flood recovery.
FixMyStreet, a free application created by Christchurch web developer Jonathan Hunt, lets people use their PC or iPhone to report faults or incidents.

Mr Hunt said the application asked people to choose the address nearest to the incident or fault. "It then comes back to you with a map so you can fine-tune the location by dragging a marker. Then you fill out what the issue is and enter your contact details and you can also upload a photo," he said.

People would receive a link via email and once they clicked to confirm it, the application would email the report to the right council, based on the incident's location.
People had reported 200 issues since the site launched in September. The issues most commonly reported were graffiti, potholes, "footpath issues" and rubbish.
Councils already had email addresses for reporting issues but FixMyStreet let people pinpoint them on a map and post photos.
There were versions of FixMyStreet in about 10 countries and councils in Australia, and a few countries in South America and Africa had contacted him about setting up their own sites, he said. About 75 New Zealander had downloaded the iPhone application.

Wellington geospatial software firm Critchlow has also launched an application in New Zealand and Australia.

Government sales manager David Knight said the free NeatStreets application could be used on iPhones, Android smartphones and BlackBerrys, and downloads currently ranged between 50 and 100 a week. Users could take a photo of an issue, categorise it, type a message and send it to Critchlow, which would check and send it on to the relevant council either via email or, for a price, directly to their internal systems.

GPS-enabled phones would automatically give a location for the issue – based on where the photo was taken. People without this feature on their phones could mark the location on a map.
More than 2000 issues had been reported through NeatStreets in New Zealand and Australia.

An Australian search and rescue agency involved in Queensland' flood recovery had asked Critchlow to develop a version for its staff so they could gather information about flood damage.
Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said staff took photos of graffiti and damage while out in the field. "If residents are doing the same thing it saves us the job."

The council would have to review the business case before deciding whether to integrate applications like FixMyStreet or NeatStreets into its systems, he said.

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