Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How to fix everything. Except streetlights.

Sample Screen from March 2011
The City of Alexandria has been quietly rolling out a new issue reporting system on their website: over the last few years.

Back in March of 2011, we reported about a nifty new GIS-based system that not only allows you to help locate the problem on a map, it also offers you the ability to upload supporting documents or pictures and retains the request for you under your account so you can check back later to see the results.

The system is live now, but one major difference: you can no longer report streetlight outages online. Back when we tested the system, two years ago, both the City and Dominion Power (the provider of the lights) offered online outage reporting systems. The pic above is a screen captured from our test to report broken streetlights. 

A vandalized street light waiting repair.
But that's not how it works anymore. Instead, if you need to get a streetlight fixed Alexandria suggests: 
Public Streetlights - If the light is on a public street, it's most likely a streetlight. Streetlight outages must be reported by calling us at 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357).
We've tried this and it does work, but it's slow. It took us, on average, 12 minutes to make each report over the phone. And yes, when you have a few reports (say 10) to make, as we have, it can take HOURS. 

The problem with streetlights is not unique to Alexandria. Greater, Greater Washington had a recent post about similar challenges in Arlington County: "Arlington confronts challenges of streetlight ." And there's still the human element involved in any system (other reports we made got redirected when City staff found and fixed other problems instead of the one we reported). But those issues aside, Alexandria's new system, dubbed Call.Click.Connect is a major step in the right direction.

Here's more:

City of Alexandria Launches Call.Click.Connect.

New Customer Service Initiative Places “Your Government @ Your Fingertips”

On January 28, the City of Alexandria launched Call.Click.Connect., a new customer service initiative that combines people, processes and technology to deliver information, services and solutions to the public through a centralized, streamlined process. At the heart of the initiative is an online system for entering, tracking, and resolving service requests, designed to help the City respond more efficiently to requests from residents and the public.

Users can call 703.746.HELP (4357), or click the Web portal on to easily access information and connect with their City government.

Call.Click.Connect. places City government “at your fingertips” through multiple features, including:
  • One number, 703.746.HELP, for all customer requests and inquiries;
  • Options that allow customers to create and track the status of their own requests, from start to finish, either online or by telephone.
  • A Contact Center staffed with experienced professionals to respond to customer inquiries.
  • The ability for the City to use information documented through Call.Click.Connect. to track service request trends, determine emerging policy concerns, improve service delivery and make better policy decisions.
“Excellence in service is one of the City’s guiding principles,” said City Manager Rashad M. Young. “Call.Click.Connect. exemplifies our pledge to ensure our accountability and transparency, and deliver exceptional services that enrich the quality of life for everyone in Alexandria.” 

For more information, visit the Call.Click.Connect. page on, or call the City’s Contact Center at 703.746.HELP. 

Previously related posts from The Arlandrian:

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