‘Citizen Portal’ gives residents quick connection to city staff

Sean C. Morgan

Sweet Home residents who notice something that needs to be fixed can now report it to city officials quickly and easily anywhere they have access to the Internet.

The city’s Public Works Department recently began using new management software, which includes a work order creation system accessible by the public called the “Mobile311 Citizen Portal.”

“It’s two things,” said City Manager Ray Towry. “One, it’s transparency. Two, it increases our capacity.”

City officials may not know something is broken or needs attention, Towry said. People help them identify work that may need to be done.

“We’re kind of unofficially putting citizens to work helping to identify deficiencies,” Towry said.

Prior to the creation of the new Citizen Portal, Sweet Home residents would need to call a city phone number, drop by City Hall, talk to a councilor or employee or just do nothing.

The portal eliminates the steps in between, Towry said. “This is getting you right to the people that do the work.”

To use it, “you create your account, you submit your issue,” Towry said. “It then goes into our system. It automatically sends the message to the crews.”

The submission becomes a work order. The portal includes a disclaimer noting that the submission is not an agreement or acceptance of work. City employees will review requests and contact the person submitting it if they have additional questions.

At this point, the portal may be used to submit information about maintenance issues such as potholes, water leaks, a fallen tree, a clogged toilet in a park, or damaged street signs. It also may be used to submit code enforcement complaints and to set up an appointment for leaf pickup this fall.

In some cases, the city encourages people to call the Police Department, (541) 367-5181, in the evenings and weekends and any city phone number – (541) 367-5128 is the main number of City Hall – during the day to report a major water leak.

To reach the portal go the city’s main page, sweet-home.or.us. Click on “submit request” near the bottom of the page on the right.

On that page, citizens can submit inquiries, requests for service, comments and complaints. The Mobile311 Citizen Portal may be accessed from the page as well. Citizens also may access it directly at sweethomeor.mobile311.com.

Once open, citizens must make an account and then log in. Once logged in, users will find a map after allowing the application to find your location. Clicking on the map shows on the map where an issue is located. Click on the button “Create work request” at the bottom of the screen to begin the submission form.

A pull-down menu lists a variety of common types of issues. Select one and then fill out a description. Below the description is a button to submit a photo. Once complete, click “Submit work request,” located below the photo button.

Once submitted, a user may check a list at the right or the map to view progress on the request.

The maintenance superintendent and crew leaders review and prioritize submissions, Towry said, and they’re filtered to the correct crew, parks, streets, water collection, wastewater collection and code enforcement.

The system is being used internally daily by city staff, who use it to generate all of their work orders, Towry said. “Then it’s used to track our resources and our time. We get phenomenal data we can use to do more accurate budgeting.”

It provides empirical data about how long a particular piece of equipment is in use and how much manpower is used on a project, Towry said. Staff can run a variety of reports. The reports can identify areas where the city would find a better return by rehabbing a street instead of fixing frequent problems.

Anecdotally, the city reached a conclusion that new asphalt on 46th through 48th avenues would give a better return than ongoing maintenance, Towry said.

“It really allows us to stay on top of things, be proactive, much better than we have,” Towry said.

Public Works Director Greg Springman had used the program, created by Facility Dude, at his previous job in Colorado.

The program costs about $12,000 per year, an increase of about $6,000 from the cost of the previous Public Works software, which had less functionality, Towry said.

The city’s website also provides two additional portals, one that links to Pacific Power under the tab “How Do I?” to report a streetlight outage. Another connects to

SafeOregon under the tab “Report a Concern” to report possible threats at schools.