At my job we have lots of ticketing systems. This is pretty common in the IT world. We have applications for submitting tickets for network changes, maintenance requests, software defects, technical support, new employee hiring and firing, etc. We probably have a ticketing system for making changes to other ticketing systems. It sounds like a lot, and sometimes it is. But if you’ve got a good process around the system, it can help your organization in a big way.
How so? It allows for accountability and transparency. When stuff isn’t getting done, there is a record of who is assigned a task with dates, times and notes. And when the process behind the system works, it gives management the tools and metrics to track change. They can also make pretty graphs for their powerpoint presos.
Yesterday the AJC ran a story about the City of Alpharetta and their adoption of SeeClickFix. You can read the article here. The application is basically a ticketing system for citizens to submit minor problems within the city. Think potholes, broken sidewalks, storm drains, traffic lights, stuff like that. Users submit issues through a web 2.0 interface with google maps integration or over a smart phone (iPhone, Blackberry or Android). It is slick technology. <nerd mode off>
Like many, this was the first time I heard of this application, which Alpharetta has quietly been using for a few months. When I first read the AJC article I kinda thought the city developed this on their own. That’s not the case. They have adopted a process around SeeClickFix and have subscribed to its service. At only $100 a month, this was a real bargain for the city.
Yesterday I created an issue in the new system. I reported on a traffic light on Windward Parkway that I think needs to be re-timed. In just a few minutes someone with the city acknowledged the issue and assigned it to the traffic division for research. That in and of itself isn’t a huge deal. I suppose I could have picked up the phone and called the traffic division and accomplished the same thing.
So how is this better? Because I have a ticket. I am issue number 47733. I have a URL, a status, a date, “like” buttons and a section for comments and discussions. I have something I can come back to weeks or months later if nothing is done. In short, I have a visible way to hold the city accountable. If I had just called in my issue, who knows what would have happened. The employee on the other end of the phone could have done nothing. Or more likely than anything, the request might have just gotten lost in the bureaucracy of government.
The system is still pretty young. It will take time to see how well it is adopted and embraced by the city and citizens. As a local blogger you can bet I’ll be watching. In the meantime, I think the City of Alpharetta deserves a lot of praise. In this current political climate, citizens are demanding a lot out of government. Unfortunately that usually manifests itself in the form of ugly campaigns and fighting. What I think citizens truly want is open, transparent and responsive government, not politics. Big kudos to Alpharetta for being the first to leverage this technology.