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What we learned using SeeClickFix. An interview with David Flintom of St. Pete’s Mayor’s Action.

David Flintom has been working hard. David runs St. Pete’s Mayor’s Action Center and has updated the city’s antiquated reporting system by pioneering the use of SeeClickFix so citizens can report problems like potholes, graffiti, broken sidewalks, storm drain issues, traffic signal/sign problems, special pick-up of dumped items, and code violations.

And it looks like the citizens of our great city have been stepping up, too. Not only was St. Pete and Pinellas County used as a national model for the SeeClickFix phone app, but St. Pete was named in the Top 10 of 50 named “Fixer Cities” in the country for 2015!

If you want to know more about SeeClickFix, take a look at this video where Mayor Kriseman, David Flintom, and some awesome guy representing the Historic Uptown neighborhood talk about it.

So the city has been using SeeClickFix for about two years now. What have we learned? What are we doing right? What can we be doing better? I threw a few questions at David Flintom to find out just that:

How has the response been so far among the city’s residents?

The response has been great! St Pete citizens expect their city government to be accountable to them, and they deserve transparency, efficiency, professionalism, and responsiveness along with that accountability. Adopting SeeClickFix as our primary tool for citizen submitted requests for assistance with City services has allowed us to improve our performance in all of those core areas.

We have seen a steady increase in the use of SeeClickFix within the City of St Pete since we took over administration of that app from Pinellas County in June of 2014. We receive, on average, anywhere from 1200-1500 issue submissions per month. While we are happy with the initial response from citizens using SeeClickFix, we would always like to see more.

What tangible difference have you seen with the city’s adoption of the SeeClickFix app?

SeeClickFix is an outstanding tool, but like any tool, it’s only as effective as the users behind it. So far, putting the power of problem reporting in the hands of our residents has been beneficial.

We’ve seen the most tangible difference with how we have empowered City staff members to utilize SeeClickFix in the same way as citizens, especially our staff in the field. For example, if a Codes investigator is driving down an alley and sees a discarded piece of furniture, they can use the SeeClickFix mobile app to report the issue, which is then sent to the Sanitation department, who will then schedule its collection, and hopefully before a resident even notices. SeeClickFix has improved efficiency and allowed us to take a more proactive approach to resolving issues, as opposed to always reacting to citizen requests.

Internally, SeeClickFix has forced us to acknowledge that the closing of work orders is a very critical step, one that has been taken for granted in the past. We have been working to close out when work is complete by developing a better understanding of how all departments are performing.

Are you able to gather statistics and trends from the SeeClickFix database?

SeeClickFix is a data lover’s dream. Not only can we see what issues are happening, but exactly where and with what frequency.

With respect to submissions by City Council Districts, the most active areas are Districts 4 (Rice), 6 (Nurse), 7 (Wheeler-Brown), and 8 (Foster) – these represent the central and eastern parts of the City, including downtown, which are fairly densely populated.

Currently, the most active neighborhoods are 1) Central Oak Park (1206 reports), 2) Disston Heights (1164 reports), and a tie for 3) Historic Kenwood and, yes, Historic Uptown (826 reports each).

The two most used categories for all reported issues are Codes (34%) and Sanitation (22%)

Tracking the data behind illegal dumping has been an ongoing project with the City, and SeeClickFix has been incredibly helpful. We can now overlay Sanitation issue reports on a map and look for hotspots, or areas where reports are chronically high. The Sanitation department’s police investigator can now put focus on those hot areas using undercover officers and hidden cameras. So far, our efforts have been successful, but we still have much work to do.

What can the SeeClickFix user base do to use the app most effectively?

The most effective SeeClickFix submissions are able to submit a photo and give us two pieces of critical information:

‘Where is it?’ and ‘What is it?’

That is all.

What are some mistakes users make with the app?

Great question! The ‘geolocation’ feature of the mobile app that uses your phone’s GPS to identify a location’s address is not always accurate. Sometimes that will give us a range, like ‘100-199 Central Ave’, or sometimes it will give us your location at the time of submitting an issue, like your home address, when you’re actually reporting an issue that you saw in another part of town. Please double check the address is as accurate as possible for the issue being reported.

SeeClickFix is not to be used for emergencies, items of a timely nature, or law enforcement issues. Phone calls can lead to much quicker responses when time is critical, and if you see someone breaking a law, contact the St. Petersburg Police Department (SPPD) directly at 727-893-7780 for non-emergencies or by dialing 911. By the way, SPPD has their own mobile app for reporting crime tips (iPhone / Android). All tips are submitted anonymously!

Help keep our streets safe by reporting street light outages directly to Duke Energy, either by calling 727-443-2641, or by using their very cool Request Light Repair’ web tool.

What cool updates are on the horizon for SeeClickFix?

Sanitation truck drivers will soon have a non-SeeClickFix technology at their fingertips – dash cams! With these in-truck mounted cameras, drivers will be able to quickly document dumped items with minimal impact to their regular pick-up routes and times. Location information for the photographed items will be beamed back to Sanitation headquarters, where staff will be able to schedule collections quicker than ever.

Other SeeClickFix partner cities take full advantage of the social communication benefits that can be derived from a platform like SeeClickFix. For example, is a web-based service developed by SeeClickFix that provides a connection between residents who need help shoveling snow. Imagine the benefit of that same kind of connection during the aftermath a hurricane. The potential for this application is huge!

Any closing thoughts?

It should be noted, not all residents in any given area will have the technological tools at their disposal to use SeeClickFix, and for those residents, the Mayor’s Action Center (727-893-7111) will always be just a phone call away.

If you have comments, questions, or ideas about how to make the City, the Mayor’s Action Center, or the SeeClickFix application function better for you and your neighborhood, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us – we appreciate all you do to make St Pete a better place to live, work, and play!



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