Clovis News

Technology helps Clovis residents report issues

Clovis is making it easier for residents with an iPhone to alert the city to the location of potholes, graffiti or landscaping in need of repair.

And it's using a Web-based program that can send alerts and information to people with cell phones and computers.

Fresno will launch the same program this week.

The goal is to make use of free software to improve communication between the city and its residents.

"This is an opportunity to continue to make government a two-way street, especially when you have younger citizens who use these technologies as their primary modes of communication," said Chad Fitzgerald, special projects manager for Clovis. "Government needs to meet people where they are at ... iPhone applications and mobile devices are the new town squares."

Clovis residents can download the iPhone application free through the Clovis city Web site. Residents who see a problem can then snap a photo, write a short note and send it to the city where it will be directed to the appropriate staff member to correct the problem, Fitzgerald said. The application provides the picture, the note and -- using GPS technology -- the location of the problem.

The iPhone program, which has been in place since March 1, has been used about a dozen times, Clovis officials say.

"What is so advanced about this technology is that you can see something in Clovis, a pothole, graffiti, landscaping that needs maintenance, take a picture with your iPhone with a quick comment and the city will know exactly where it is," Council Member Nathan Magsig said.

Clovis also has joined Nixle, a no-cost way for local governments to alert residents to problems in the city, such as street closures, police issues or public meetings.

Fresno also has been testing Nixle for meeting advisories and reporting traffic problems to the public. The city expects to launch Nixle this week, said Randy Reed, Fresno's communications director.

Clovis officials claim to be the first city in the Valley to use both Nixle and the iPhone application.

Many local governments already subscribe to services such as "Reverse 911" or "CityWatch" to send out emergency notifications, but those services are expensive and require costly high-tech equipment, Fitzgerald said. Those programs also are limited to landline phones in homes.

Nixle allows residents to sign up for and receive only the notifications they want on their cell phone or computer. The service does not work with landline phones.