Concord launching smart phone app for reporting graffiti and other nuisances [Contra Costa Times :: ]
(Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, CA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 05--CONCORD -- Reporting unsightly graffiti, abandoned vehicles and deep potholes to the city soon will take only a few taps on a smart phone.
Later this month, San Ramon-based technology company Accela plans to launch a yearlong trial of "Civic Hero," an app that allows users to file a request for service from their smart phones and track its progress until the complaint has been resolved.
Using geo-tracking, Civic Hero automatically identifies the location of the issue then routes the report directly to the city department responsible. The company says the app will save residents time because they won't have to figure out which city department to contact and will streamline the process for taking care of service requests.
"You kind of take out the middle man," said Jeff Stiles, Accela vice president of marketing.
Residents still will be able to file complaints online or in person.
In addition to potholes, abandoned vehicles and graffiti, the list of 20 to 25 issues that will be available on the app in Concord also includes tree maintenance, trash removal, nuisance animals, leaking fire hydrants and junky property.
Concord already has a smart phone app to report abandoned shopping carts to a company that retrieves them. Council members Laura Hoffmeister and Ron Leone pointed out that abandoned shopping carts aren't on the city's list of issues for Civic Hero and they both wondered if Accela planned to include carts or coordinate with the city's current vendor.
Accela will work with city staffers to refine the list and improve the app during the trial period, said Tom Kuhlman, Concord's information technology director.
Civic Hero works on iPhones and mobile phones that use the Android and Windows operating systems.
Allen Chen of Accela led a live demonstration of Civic Hero during the Feb. 4 City Council meeting. From a single screen a user will select the pertinent report from the list, the app will find the location, the user can upload a photo or video, add a comment and then submit the report, Chen explained. Users can share their reports on Twitter or Facebook with friends.
Civic Hero will remain a free service after the one-year pilot project concludes.
"It's free, there won't be any additional cost. We will not do pop-up advertising," Stiles assured the council.
Lisa P. White covers Concord and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.
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