FixMyStreet - Brussels (FixMyStreet)

Published on: 31/03/2014
Document

“FixMyStreet” is a platform (available for computer and mobile) which enables citizens and administrations to signal road problems, such as holes, degraded concrete, etc. on sidewalks, streets, tunnels and public parks in the Brussels-Capital region.

Users can connect to the website (or use the application) to signal the type and address of a road problem (sending pictures is possible and is mandatory only with the mobile app). The issue is published on the website and its processing is monitored (traffic-light system). Registered users are updated via email when the road accident they signalled is solved.

Brussels Mobility and the Minister of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region responsible for Regional and Communal IT launched the FixMyStreet project in order to improve the management of streets and sidewalks, by notably improving the collaboration between the different organisations that are responsible for the maintenance of streets. There are several institutions with competence on the maintenance of streets, sidewalks, public lighting, etc, which range from municipalities, to public transport and utilities companies.

The project improved citizens’ perception and engagement in street maintenance, as well as transparency. Citizens no longer need to interact with different organisations in order to report issues, as FixMyStreet provides them with a single interface. This reduces citizens’ frustration, as they can track that their issue is being dealt with.

The platform has also enabled to reduce the pressure on municipalities’ call centres and has ensured that data is monitored centrally, enabling an improvement of municipalities’ business processes. Data from the system has also allowed organisations to better focus their procurement. For instance, the data collected on the platform revealed that many problems were related to small issues on sidewalks, for which no specific contractor was foreseen, as the contracts in place only covered large amounts of work. It was thus decided to launch a procurement procedure to enable companies to intervene rapidly, and on short notice, on small portions of sidewalks.

Policy Context

The Minister of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, responsible for Transport and Regional and Communal IT has competences on both mobility and ICT. The choice of developing an application like FixMyStreet therefore seemed like a natural solution which the Cabinet could offer to citizens, by combining these two aspects, in order to solve problems.

Description of target users and groups

The main user groups are both citizens and municipalities. Indeed, the project provides citizens with a single interface in order to report issues, and enables to improve municipalities’ business processes.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

In the design phase of the project, it was decided to involve the (future) users of the system. All the municipalities of the region, as well as all the other organisations potentially concerned, were thus invited to participate in the project. Fifteen out of the nineteen municipalities have participated in the project since its beginning.

Those organisations participated in early meetings to define the needs of the users and the main functionalities of the system. This allowed to design the platform around the needs and requests of the main users (i.e. the organisations which carry out the work on the streets). This allowed not only a better design of the platform, but also higher legitimacy of the project and early buy-in, which in turn lead to a higher sense of ownership of the platform by its professional users.

This stakeholder engagement approach has continued also in the management of the service, and is reflected in the project’s governance structure. The project is led by the Brussels Regional Informatics Centre (BRIC), and revolves around a Steering Committee (Comité de Pilotage), which includes high-level officials from the organisations involved, and which gathers three to four per year to take strategic decisions.

A Management Committee (Comité d’accompagnement), which includes real users of the systems from the different participating organisations, also comes together on a monthly basis. This Committee oversees the management of the platform, and is used to identify aspects and functionalities which pose problems, aspects to improve, and discuss new functionalities, etc.

The inclusion of future users of the platform in its design, implementation and current operation is one of the success factors of the initiative. In order to catalyse stakeholder engagement, the CIRB decided to involve a consultant from Bruxelles Mobilité to act as a “lobbyist” for the service, to persuade all stakeholders to get involved. As a result, stakeholder engagement has been greater than for projects involving a similar number of stakeholders.

The web portal and the mobile application were developed by the BRIC in collaboration with a private company.

Technology solution

The project was developed based on the open source code from the fixmystreet.ca. The system works by connecting the IT systems of the different organisations involved, rather than by integrating all back-office systems in one common larger one. Back-office integration has been rather limited.

This has implications on the semantic architecture. For instance, recently the BRIC had to make the categories of incidents of the system compatible with those used by the Sibelga system in order to ensure an integrated management of signalled problems.

Technology choice: Open source software

Main results, benefits and impacts

Benefits of the project include improved efficiency of interventions, better coordination among the stakeholders involved (region, municipalities, utility companies), increased transparency for citizens, and better knowledge of processes and competences, which will be further enhanced with the new monitoring system.

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Track record of sharing

The project was presented at the Libre Software Meeting and at WILCS. Furthermore, the CIRB has recently been contacted by other organisations interested in implementing the FixMyStreet application in other cities/regions, including Wallonia (Belgium), Région Midi-Pirenées (France) and Casablanca (Morocco). In the last two cases, the BRIC was contacted by consultants interested in the possibility of suggesting this solution to their clients in the public sector.

Lessons learnt

The project has shown the importance of evaluating the legal aspects of the project early on in the process. Indeed, the project was delayed for a few weeks after an official raised a question about the legal consequences of implementing the platform (e.g. in case there is an accident in the place where a citizen has signalled an issue, who would be held accountable?).

The involvement of stakeholders in the design and implementation of the project has also proved to be one of the key success factors of the initiative.

Scope: Regional (sub-national)