County holds off on app

BY BEN MARKS | FEBRUARY 27, 2015 5:00 AM

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Last week, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors heard a proposal for an app called SeeClickFix.

The app, already enormously popular in many towns around the county, was scheduled to be approved during the supervisor’s formal meeting Thursday.

The item was pulled from the budget, however, pending further discussion on how the proposed app would interact with a very similar system Iowa City has in place called ICgovXpress, Supervisor Rod Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the supervisors had reached out to Iowa City about the app but had been unsuccessful.

“When our previous IT director reached out to them, they weren’t as interested in working with us,” he said. “But when our current IT director reached out, we got a slightly different answer. So he said, ‘Let’s take a couple weeks and see if we can’t get a better deal.’ ”

Both SeeClickFix and ICgovXpress are almost identical tools allowing users to report nonemergency issues to their local governments such as potholes, graffiti, or abandoned cars. Both come as a mobile app that uses geotagging and photos to help pinpoint the problem and report it more efficiently, and both have a website-based component.

The only major difference between the two tools is SeeClickFix’s more open platform, which allows users to see all the complaints and queries made and comment on them; ICgovXpress only allows users to see their own.

Stan Laverman, the senior Iowa City housing inspector who oversees ICgovXpress, said the county had not contacted him about SeeClickFix specifically, and he was unaware the supervisors were considering it till he read a newspaper article.

Laverman said the city had considered SeeClickFix when officials originally were pondering adopting such a system, but they ultimately decided it wasn’t compatible with their existing software.

ICgovXpress was launched almost two years ago, and Laverman said 5,200 complaints and inquiries have been registered since then, the most popular of which are currently snow complaints, although he said it can range anywhere traffic problems to trash in a yard.

However, despite being around for two years and averaging seven uses a day, ICgovXpress might not be reaching its full potential.

“I’ve lived in Iowa City for 27 years, and I’ve never heard of [ICgovXpress] … seen anyone using it or seen it promoted,” Supervisor Janelle Rettig said.

Sullivan said the supervisors are prepared to approve SeeClickFix if working with Iowa City doesn’t prove to be less expensive and said they won’t rush into anything.

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