From potholes to barking dogs, from neighborhood eyesores to broken parking meters, more than 4,000 incidents and problems have been handled through Huntsville Connect the past three years.
Huntsville Connect is a streamlined process that enables residents to ask for assistance from any of two dozen departments by simply going online to the City of Huntsville website or through the Huntsville Connect mobile app.
“Citizens are our eyes and ears in the community, and the Huntsville Connect app allows them to report issues to us as they see them,” said Mayor Tommy Battle. “It might be graffiti, a broken water fountain in a park, or a broken street light – our residents are helping us better maintain our community.”
While Huntsville Connect is accessible 24/7, staffers monitor the site during work hours. More than 50 trained City employees will assure the case is directed to the proper personnel and response time is typically between 24 and 48 hours, often less.
Huntsville Connect, which uses the SeeClickFix software program, essentially enables a resident to create a work order in regard to the situation.
Huntsville Connect gives us the ability to better serve our citizens in a transparent and timely fashion”
The most common submissions are potholes and, in the summer months, neighboring yards or property on which the grass has grown too high. On a recent day, the first Huntsville Connect submission concerned barking dogs, after a home-owners’ association had already approached the citizen, and it was followed by a pothole report.
According to Chris McNeese, Director of the Department of Public Works, his teams handle an average of 2,800 to 3,000 potholes per week, with four different crews with a path truck.
Residents are required to create an account to submit to Huntsville Connect, though their submissions can remain anonymous.
The process is simple. Select the “Report” tab on the site, then type in the address of the request. If the specific address isn’t known, a “drop-a-pin” tool is available to put a marker on a general area of the map.
Next, choose a request “Category” for a drop-down menu that allows an additional description and the option to attach an image.
“We love it when a citizen attaches a photo because it helps us better identify the magnitude of the problem,” says Tara Sloan, who manages the Huntsville Connect operation in the Mayor’s office and monitors the overall program. “It’s a very convenient way for citizens to directly reach us and not have to call City Hall and try to find the appropriate department.”
The departments accessible through Huntsville Connect include Animal Services, Cemetery Services, the Clerk-Treasurer’s office, Community Development, Engineering, Fire Department, General Services, the Green Team, Human Resources, Information Technology Services, Inspections, Legal, Mayor’s Office, Natural Resources, Parking, Parks & Recreation, Police Department, Public Works, Sanitation, Traffic Engineering, Transit and Zoning.
Huntsville Utilities is also accessible through Huntsville Connect, with one category for electricity, another for water. The Utilities also assists with reports of dangling cables.
“Huntsville Connect gives us the ability to better serve our citizens in a transparent and timely fashion,” said Kelly Cooper Schrimsher, Director of Communication. “All of the service requests, comments, and solutions are visible online, allowing citizens to monitor progress and learn how the City solves problems.”
One important note. Huntsville Connect is not to be used for emergency calls. Fire and police emergencies are still handled through 911, and Huntsville Utilities has a dedicated line for emergencies (256) 535-4448.