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Southfield to swap citizen reporting tools

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published February 26, 2020

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SOUTHFIELD — The city will soon be changing the way residents can submit service requests.

At a Feb. 27 council meeting, Deputy City Administrator John Michrina said that the city will be switching customer request management software from SeeClickFix to a different system called QAlert.

In August, officials announced the launch of SeeClickFixSouthfield, a free app that allows people to directly report quality-of-life issues and request city services, but after a review of the cost and services it provides, officials have decided to make a change.

“We went live with SeeClickFix six months ago, and we handled a little over 400 requests through it,” Michrina said. “We started our six-month review in January, including input from residents who use the system and our managers.”

Michrina said there were a lot of things officials and residents liked about the app, such as the ability to upload a photo and that the app also used GPS to eliminate confusion on where exactly an issue is located.

Officials said they also liked the record of what had been reported and how the city responded.

However, Michrina said, the standard amount of user licenses SeeClickFix will issue is 20, which is not enough to meet the city’s needs.

“It sounds like a lot for a city our size, but once you take the people who input the complaints, the people who handle the complaints, management, administration, the people who oversee it and make sure it runs smoothly, and IT to make sure it is physically working, that’s just not enough for us,” he said.

SeeClickFix can sell the city more 10 more licenses, but the cost would be $9,000. According to a previous report, the annual cost of SeeClickFix is $9,860, which comes out of the city’s technical services budget.

“That’s double the cost of SeeClickFix then, so that’s not going to work for us,” Michrina said.

Michrina said the app also doesn’t allow for any Southfield branding, either.

“We think Southfield should be represented. It’s our taxpayers requesting those fixes,” he said.

Michrina also cited issues with non-Southfield residents making complaints and feuds among neighbors.

Officials recently looked at other programs to handle their customer request management needs, and QAlert came out on top because of its ability to provide unlimited licenses, geographic assignments and Southfield branding.

Ed Dzitko, the director of communication and learning services for QScend Technologies, the company that oversees QAlert, said in an email that the program is easy to use, and it allows residents to create an account and view a history of requests they have submitted.

Dzitko said several communities have benefited from using the program.

One community thought it might have to hire additional staff in public works, but it found that by changing the duties of two staff members who no longer needed to sort paperwork orders into assignment piles every morning, it could actually get more done without an extra hire, Dzitko said.

“Another community learned that a detour for a construction project actually created safety issues, so it was able to reconfigure the detour before anything bad happened. And another discovered that, by providing its field workers with iPads, it could respond to requests put in at city hall for garbage or recycling buckets, or water turn-ons and shut-offs, before the person making the request even got home.”

Another benefit of the program is that the city’s trash hauler, GFL, uses it.

“With QAlert, the complaint goes right to a tablet to workers in the field,” Michrina said. “They want us to go there. In fact, GFL wants us to go to QAlert so badly that they’re picking up half the cost.”

Instead of paying full price for a $19,000 program, the city will pay around $9,900, Michrina said, which is about the same cost of SeeClickFix without any of the additional licenses.

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