In 2015, the City of Bainbridge Island, WA partnered with SeeClickFix to increase communication between citizens and government staff for its 23,000+ population. Since then, Bainbridge Island has trained multiple departments to utilize SeeClickFix. With this additional focus on getting internal staff on board, the city has seen improvements in community relations even before they have begun marketing the tool.
Before 2015, the City of Bainbridge Island didn’t use any official technology to help their citizens report requests. “People would just call if they had requests,” said Kellie Stickney, Community Engagement Specialist at City of Bainbridge Island.
This was becoming an increasingly talked about request among community members. “The city recognized that there was a lack of communication that existed between resident and city staff,” said Stickney, “There hadn’t been a communication person for the city in four-and-a-half years and there was enough talk around the community to know that we were in a situation that needed to be improved.”
When the City Manager of Bainbridge Island Doug Schulze began looking for solutions to their communication problem, he found SeeClickFix. “Our city manager is really involved in the International City Management Association (ICMA),” said Stickney, “And he heard about SeeClickFix as a best practice and he decided that it was something that the city should get with too.”
The City of Bainbridge Island is utilizing SeeClickFix to improve two kinds of communication in the city:
- Public communication: With SeeClickFix’s mobile app and website tools, Bainbridge Island is improving communication with citizens.
- Internal communication: With SeeClickFix’s backend management system, Bainbridge Island is managing and addressing reported requests within and across departments.
Currently, the the City of Bainbridge Island Public Works, Planning, and Police Department all utilize the SeeClickFix tool. “If I were to give other communities of our similar size advice,” said Stickney, “it would be that it is really important for staff to be on board and embracing the tool and be trained on the tool before you implement and put the tool out to the community.” The City of Bainbridge Island has worked with SeeClickFix’s Customer Success team to ensure that all staff feel prepared and trained using SeeClickFix; and they have already seen improvements. Said Stickney: “As we provided more support to our staff in utilizing the tool, it has led to our community feeling better about it and improvements already without additional marketing.”
Thus far, these improvements include a better image for the City of Bainbridge Island because of better communication with more transparency and accountability:
“If we can make it really easy for people to report when they have problems and then be able to communicate with them on a platform that is easy and quick, it improves our image in the community. It makes our actions more transparent and allows us to be quickly accountable.”
In addition, SeeClickFix has allowed the City of Bainbridge Island to keep a finger on the pulse of their communities:
It is so much better to be able to hear about an request directly and be able to have that back and forth dialogue, than be reading a neighborhood blog or stumble upon a neighborhood Facebook page and see these things being complained about out in the public sphere but not in a way where we can solve them. ~ Kellie Stickney, Community Engagement Specialist at City of Bainbridge Island
“My favorite thing about [SeeClickFix] is that citizens now have way to quickly and easily report an request and add a photo so that [Bainbridge Island] can get all that information really quickly. If someone calls in, they can’t go back in to add a photo or send an email. And they probably didn’t even take a photo. How easy it is for residents is probably the best feature of the system.”
Next, the City of Bainbridge Island is considering purchasing a SeeClickFix dedicated app. SeeClickFix’s custom mobile apps can enhance engagement with citizens even further. They centralize services, information, and notifications into a single experience while integrating with the city’s management tools:
I think the idea of having a dedicated app is really nice. It’s both nice from the prerogative of the community and the city. If I could have the city’s crews out fixing a pothole and they could just pick up their phone, take a picture, say “fixed pothole”, and close the request in a minute: that would be amazing. ~ Kellie Stickney, Community Engagement Specialist at City of Bainbridge Island
We look forward to continuing to see the City of Bainbridge Island’s consistent progress with utilizing SeeClickFix to improve their community through better communication.