2015-01-30 / Front Page

Communication eased with new online tool

By Jason Glynn
Contributing Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND – The city of South Portland just launched a new tool on its website to better help residents when they contact local government. The Citizen’s Request Module can be found under any “contact us” links on city website and will automatically direct citizen requests to a specific department, and will generate a tracking number for the request so the user can check the status of the request at any time.

The request module is powered by iWorQ, and was part of a larger work order for management software purchased by Public Works Doug Howard.

“We originally were looking for a new system to track work orders within our department, and a license for the request module came with the package and all the other department heads really liked it,” Howard said.

“The city manager (Jim Gailey) also really liked that citizens would be given a tracking number and be able to track the progress of their request,” he added.

The module does more than simply forward a request to the correct department. Howard said a work order can be generated right from the request, which will cut down on the paper trail and the possibility of duplication.

The public works department has used the system since September, but it was only recently adopted by the city as a whole. Since September, department secretary Denise Michaud said she has been putting all telephoned requests into the system.

“Before I would just log my calls into a notebook and have to flip through it to find a specific entry again later, but this new system offers much better accountability with the tracking feature, and it’s much easier to search through now,” Michaud said.

Michaud said the public works department fields a variety of calls and she has six to 10 entries into the new system daily.

“Many of our callers think we are also other departments, such as sewer or roads, so it’s great that I can easily choose the proper department and attach it to the request,” she said.

If a resident is unsure about the proper department when filling out the form online, they can leave it blank and it will be sent to the city clerk to be forwarded to the proper department, Howard said. Residents can also ask to be contacted.

“We try to follow up on every request we get within 24 business hours,” Howard said.

The software package purchased by the public works department also includes a sign module so the city can inventory all road signs and their life expectancy, along with a pavement module that allows the city to track what’s been done and what needs to be done, Howard said.

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