Covington Fire Dept

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Online portal lets public report, track problems

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COVINGTON, Ky. - A new phone app and online tool going live today will make it easier for the public to not only report infrastructure problems in the City of Covington but also follow up to see if those problems are being fixed.
 
Take this scenario:
 
It's a Saturday morning and while walking in, say, MainStrasse Village, you notice a crumbling curb. Or a pothole. Or a loose sewer grate.
 
You want to report it. In the old days, you could:
  • One, send an email or leave a phone message on a machine at City Hall with directions to the site and a description of the problem. Then you waited, assuming that somebody heard the message when he or she came to work Monday morning, that they understood it, and that the problem would be fixed.
  • Two, wait until Monday to report it yourself, hoping that you remembered enough to describe the problem and give directions to the receptionist or other worker who answered the phone. If you wanted to know what happened to your request, you'd wait a few days or a week and call back, hoping you got the same person and he or she remembered your request.
Starting today, however, the City's new iWorQ Service Request App makes the process of reporting a problem more efficient and less frustrating.
 
If you see a problem now, you can pull out your cell phone or other device, call up a form and answer a few basic questions, then email the form straight to Covington's Public Works Department. You can also take a picture of the problem and attach it to the form.
 
Then, armed with a work request number you receive, you can go online to check back at a later date to see what happened to your complaint and check whether the problem was fixed.
 
"In many ways, this new system makes every Covington resident a partner in my department," said Rick Davis, acting Director of the City's Public Works Department. "It essentially allows them to fill out a work order request and hold us accountable for getting it done, while increasing transparency."
 
The iWorQ system also frees up Public Works employees to concentrate on fixing and maintaining the City's infrastructure instead of spending inordinate amounts of time taking phone calls, reading emails, transcribing phone calls, and typing in work orders, Davis said.
 
Currently, the Department gets 100 to 125 phone calls a day from residents. "Our goal is to cut those numbers in half right off the bat with this new system and reduce them even further down the road," he said.
 
But the City's new iWorQ software isn't just a tool for residents. It's a whole new way of doing things internally as well.
 
The foundation of the software creates a modern, paperless work order management system that greatly improves how the Public Works Department assigns and tracks jobs on an internal basis, shifting the bulk of the work from the office to the site, Davis said. The Department began using the system on June 11.
 
It will lead to quicker turnaround and better tracking of work orders, he said.
 
Using the system
 
As the attached flyer shows, residents can sign up for the system by downloading the iWorQ Service Request application from the app store or by going to www.talktomycity.com/Cov01. The "agency code" is Cov01.
 
Residents can also access the portal through a "City of Covington/Public Works Request" icon on the City's website, which can be found HERE.
 
Residents who sign up via talktomycity.com can sign in via Google or Facebook. They have the option of creating a user-specific account or making a request as "a guest" every time.
 
Then it's just a matter of creating a request, answering a few basic questions and submitting the request. Residents who create their own accounts and file more than one request will see a list of their requests over time, along with trackable work request numbers.
 
Along with the app, Covington has created an accompanying email account, publicworks@covingtonky.gov, that is linked to the work order system.
 
Among the "problems" residents can report are potholes, crumbling curbs, loose or clogged sewer grates, fallen tree branches, burned-out street lights, broken parks equipment and broken signs.
 
Kendall Huff, who as the City's System Analyst/Project Manager is Covington's IT expert and helped implement the new system, said he likes how iWorQ uses technology in a practical way.
 
"A lot of people are resistant to new technology because it's difficult to figure out," Huff said. "But iWorQ is easy to understand and use, and it puts technology directly to work for the 'customers' of city government."
 
Huff said the system could be expanded later to include other departments and functions, such as fleet management, code enforcement, and zoning.
 
"When you look at this work-order system, the COVDATA transparency site, our more intense focus on communications, and the priorities in the budget the City Commission is about to pass, it's clear that this City Hall is focused on improving how we interact with our residents and businesses," City Manager David Johnston said. "We just want to do things better."
 


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