September 2012 Newsletter
Hello again and happy autumn to all!
September brings about an event I have been talking about for several months now. Community Associations are very dear to my heart. Among other things, they provide a sense of community for many people, support programs and activities that increase quality of life, and are intimately involved in how each community is developed. Ward 14 has 10 of them that vary from well established to just starting out. I want to invite all of the residents of Ward 14 to come out to the southeast corner of the Southcentre Mall on Sept. 22 between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The purpose is to join me in celebrating the incredible volunteer work done by Ward 14's community associations. (And if you're early enough, you might even be able to get a free membership.) We will have burgers, line dancing, opportunities to learn more about City services, and most importantly, a chance to get to know your hard working community association board members.
Although we're heading into a new season, I would like to revisit the topic that I ended with in August. The topic is 3-1-1. For those of you who didn't get a chance to read last month's column, Council passed a motion I brought forward. I am very hopeful this motion will increase the efficiency with which 3-1-1 works with the other City departments.
In keeping with the ideal of increasing efficiency, transparency, and accountability, I made an application to The City of Calgary Council Innovation Fund and succeeded in passing it through Council in July. The idea was to take advantage of a previous plan to launch a 3-1-1 iPhone app that will go public this month. The app allows Calgarians to take pictures from their phone and it automatically geo tags the photo with coordinates. Along with the right tools in the hands of the Roads department, I think this app can vastly improve the efficiency of fulfilling road repair requests. The goal of my application was to put the right tools into the hands of Roads department's foremen. It requested funds to test the use of iPads by 100 of Roads' employees so that they could directly connect to 3-1-1.
Currently, Roads receives over 80,000 service requests through 3-1-1 annually to respond to citizen calls for things like fixing potholes and downed stop signs. Roads prints the requests, then distributes them to field staff who complete the physical work. The field staff then hand the printed paper back to an administrative resource who records the details of the request. My guess (and I think it is a solid one) is these tools will reduce a lot of re-work in the system and improve the process for Roads staff. Due to the current manual system, service requests are closed in the 3-1-1 system as soon as they are received by the Roads department, which explains my hypothetical 3-1-1 caller from last month's column who is told his request is closed while he is standing in the unfixed pothole. By connecting the Roads foreman directly with the 3-1-1 system so that requests are closed when the work is actually done, I am hopeful that this new set of tools will also improve the citizen's experience. There may be some tweaking over time, but I am certain this is a step in the right direction in terms of increasing efficiency at City Hall and improving how The City of Calgary deals with its citizen's concerns.
If you have any questions about my barbeque, 3-1-1 or anything else, I can always be contacted by phone at 403-268-1653 or contact my office. I will get back to you.
Have a wonderful month, and I hope to see you on Sept. 22!