WILSON’S LOCAL PRINT AND DIGITAL COMMUNITY INSTITUTION SINCE 1896

Technology streamlines city response to issues

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In the year since Fix-It Wilson was launched, more than 37,000 requests were filed through the customer service app.

“The goal is to improve efficiency and to be transparent in what we’re doing,” said Greenlight Community Broadband General Manager Will Aycock. “With the app, customers can see the status of their request, see other requests nearby and see whether an issue has already been reported.”

Wilsonians can download the app for free, using it to report a power outage or submit utility or public works issues. Since it went public in January 2018, 7,649 requests have been submitted for yard waste and vegetation pickup while another 4,723 requests were submitted about pickup of bulky items. Other popular issues reported through the app include: 689 gas leaks, 392 internet issues, 151 sinkholes and 129 potholes.

When the requests are broken down by department, more than half are for environmental services — a fact that doesn’t stun system administrator Casey Boyette, who said the bulk of calls to the city’s Unified Communications Center are about trash and recycling.

“That is what we expected because that is our highest call volume and one particular area we were looking to address,” Boyette said.

Environmental Services Manager Scott Hedgepeth said customers can still call in requests, but the app streamlines the process and allows customers to follow the progress.

“Our general philosophy is to respond to any ticket put in within 48 hours, but about 90 percent are closed out within 24 hours,” Hedgepeth said. “We have the ability to break down the calls by addresses and routes and assign tickets to drivers to address when they are in the area.”

While the app is used by city staff to report issues to other departments, nearly 800 residents have downloaded the app as well. Boyette said the hope is to break down the data from the first year, determining which areas of the city have the most incidents and educating residents about utilizing the app.

“We’re happy with the system and we want to see people take advantage of it,” he said. “The way the tickets are prioritized is the same as it would be from a phone call and sometimes it is quicker because we don’t have to wait to get off a call to take your request.”

Categories vary from garbage and recycling to natural gas service, issues on private property and street or sidewalk issues to water and sewer concerns.

“If users log in when they submit requests, the system will contact you back and tell you what the service level expectation is,” Aycock said. “The response will be immediate and special item pick-up could be the same day or on a customer’s normal collection day.”

Boyette said the focus in 2019 will be increasing the number of users, but new categories like nuisance concerns could be added.

“I think Fix-It Wilson is a great tool for the city,” said Hedgepeth. “A citizen can take ownership now. When you see a problem or an issue and you enter a ticket in, you can be on the forefront of solving the problem.”

Want to check it out?

Fix-It Wilson is available free to Android and Apple users through the respective app stores. Once downloaded, users can report issues, view power outages and communicate non-emergency information to police. Once a request is submitted, it is sent to the Unified Communications Center, which is staffed around the clock.

The app also takes users to the city’s website to report and track power outages. Emergencies such as gas leaks or downed power lines should still be reported by calling 252-399-2424. To file a request from a computer, visit www.wilsonnc.org and search for Fix-It Wilson.

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