Texas Rising - Fall 2011

Want to Report
a Pothole?
Bexar County citizens have an app for that.

by Brian Wellborn

When monitoring a whole county for problems, it’s good to have help — and Bexar County has plenty.

In January, Bexar County paired with municipal technology provider Cartegraph to launch YourGov, an application allowing any resident with a smartphone to report non-emergency issues and request county services on the fly. Those without smartphones can access YourGov via the Web. The most common requests concern potholes and sidewalk repairs, according to the county.

An average request plays out like this: A resident is out riding her bike and sees a pothole. She fills out a quick form on the YourGov smartphone app, snaps a picture with her phone and sends a bundle of helpful data to the county. On the county’s side, the YourGov system assigns the request to a work crew. They use the picture, as well as location information captured by the phone, to locate the pothole. Often crews complete work orders within hours.

“One efficiency for the county is the extra eyes that are on the road,” says Jeff Booth, Bexar County’s senior information technology project manager. “Basically, anyone with a smartphone becomes an inspector and can provide us with problems that our staff may not have been able to get to during a regular work day.”

Booth notes that residents have the option of checking up on requests if they register on the YourGov Web portal, and says overall response to the system has been positive.

“We have received good feedback from our residents,” Booth says. “They’re glad to see us using the latest technology to increase our productivity, and they also like the transparency of our Web portal.”

County officials have also been pleased with YourGov, which has helped streamline operations, according to County Engineer Renee Green, PE.

“Through the innovative leadership at commissioners court, the county has accelerated the use of new technologies to enhance our workflow and create greater efficiency all within a paperless environment,” Green says. “These automated applications have allowed Public Works to absorb the approximate 20 percent increase in roads without requesting additional staff.”

Those types of results are getting noticed. The YourGov application received a 2011 County Best Practices Award from the Texas Association of Counties. In addition, the system has generated positive recognition and praise from a number of other cities and counties looking to replicate Bexar’s success.

“I believe that our system is very replicable, no matter the size of the agency,” Booth says. “So far, Bell County, the city of Arlington, Missouri City, and Golden, Colo., have shown interest in the system, and Golden has actually implemented its own YourGov system.” TR

Residents spot a problem,
Bexar County responds

Bexar County’s YourGov system has so far benefitted all parties involved, according to county staff. Residents enjoy a fast, high-tech way to request services, and the county can operate more efficiently thanks to the system’s tracking of assets and personnel. To get an idea, take a look at the following service records:

Sign repair: Aug. 31, 2011, 10:39 a.m.
A “Stop Ahead” sign was reported knocked down. Service center staff saw the request and dispatched a two-person crew to re-install the sign. The work was completed by 3:30 p.m. the same day.

Illegal dumping: Aug. 11, 2011, 8:28 a.m.
A person dumped trash illegally in a county right of way. A crew was dispatched and the trash was removed by 12:58 p.m. the same day.

Right of way maintenance: May 3, 2011, 2:37 p.m.
Brush had blocked a school zone sign. Initially the Traffic Department inspected the issue, but the project was too big for them to handle. The next morning the job was reassigned to the Streets and Drainage Department, which removed the limbs from the right of way by 10 a.m.

Are you interested in putting a system like YourGov to work in your community? Find out more from software developer Cartegraph.
Learn more about Bexar County’s YourGov system.