Joburg pothole reporting app passes test

2014-06-25 12:32

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The Joburg Roads Agency’s Find & Fix smartphone app, first launched in beta form two months ago, actually works – albeit slower than promised.

Designed to allow residents to report road infrastructure issues such as potholes, problems with traffic signals, signage and storm water drains, the final version of the app is now available for Windows Phone, Android and iOS.

It is based on IT company Intervate’s Fix My City framework, which allows service requests to be grouped within a specific geographic area. Intervate director Marc Fletcher says the app took about two months to build, excluding updates. It has approximately 4200 users who log about 100 issues a day, almost all of which are valid.

City Press tried out the iOS app, which has a 4.5 stars (out of 5) rating in the Apple app store, although it was only rated by three people. At just 1.2MB, it is a light app to download – easy on the data bundles for those who haven’t figured out how to piggyback on the office Wi-Fi network yet.

When opening the app at first, you need to register as a user, which is a two-step process – enter your email address and password (first and last names are optional) and swipe a cursor to accept the terms and conditions. You’ll receive an email link, which you click to complete your registration.

Once registered and logged in, you’ll be presented with a menu of options – log issue, look at issues around you and check your issues (if any).

In the log issue menu, we selected “pothole” – Joburg has plenty of those. The app asked for permission to access our location before we took snapshots of the pothole through the app and clicked on “report issue”.

Last month, Skhumbuzo Macozoma, the agency’s MD, said at the app’s official launch that potholes would be fixed within three days of receipt of a report. The issue was reported on the afternoon of June 17. Three days later, the only thing the agency had done in the area was apply a fresh lick of paint on road surface signals.

No word from the app itself. The status in the “my issue” window remained “active”.

But on the morning of June 23, three days after the “deadline”, work was being done on the pothole. By that afternoon, the pothole was fixed. In the app, the status remained “active”.

Fletcher says the app does provide updates on the status of an issue, so we’re guessing the omission might have come from the agency’s call centre, which, according to the app’s frequently asked questions page on the agency’s website, is supposed to capture changes to service requests.

It’s a great app and it (eventually) gets things done. But there is still the human factor at the back-end.

Rating: 4/5

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