Huntsville Connect puts the power of change in citizens’ hands

single-meta-cal June 7, 2021

Quick: Think of a computer or cellphone platform that puts the power of positive change in your hands.

Give up? Maybe it’s because you haven’t tried Huntsville Connect.

Bags and garbage are seen on the side of the road next to a grassy field with trees in the background.

Illegal dumping is just one of the many issues citizens can report using Huntsville Connect, a free customer service program available through the City of Huntsville’s website or mobile phone app.

Huntsville Connect allows users to quickly and easily report a variety of non-emergency issues, including damage to City property, road hazards or illegal dumping. Other commonly reported issues include maintenance requests for existing infrastructure and code enforcement violations like high grass or unsafe structures.

District 4 Council Member Bill Kling is one of Huntsville Connect’s most vocal proponents. He praises the free service at nearly every City Council meeting.

“I like the fact that Huntsville Connect brings City government services a little bit closer for our citizens,” he said. “It allows City government to give attention to needed neighborhood problems that we might otherwise not know about.”

How it works

Huntsville Connect uses the SeeClickFix platform and can be accessed via computer browser or cellphone. The app is available in the iTunes and Google Play stores.

A screen capture of the City of Huntsville's home page, featuring the HSV Connect button

Huntsville Connect can be accessed via the City of Huntsville’s website, (above). The Huntsville Connect app is also available in the Google Play and iTunes stores (below).

Reporting an issue on a computer or cellphone is simple. While creating an account is not required, it makes it easier for the City to communicate with a citizen. There’s an option to remain anonymous, but it prevents the City from contacting a citizen for more details about a vague issue.

After logging in, users simply enter the address where the problem or issue has occurred. On the mobile version, users can click the location arrow if they are at the location where the issue occurred.

A screen shot of the Huntsville Connect app for iPhone

After hitting “next,” users select from a list of topics and provide a description of the issue as well as a photo. Providing photos or a detailed description can help ensure the correct department receives the request.

When a report is submitted, it goes directly to the applicable department for action. A high grass issue is sent to the City’s Community Development Department. Pothole or drainage issues go to Public Works.

Once the applicable department receives the report, they provide status updates of the issue as they become available.

A successful program

The City implemented SeeClickFix in 2014 with the goal of not only improving overall communication between citizens and City departments, but to also eliminate confusion over who citizens should call.

“Before I started with the City, I didn’t know who to call about potholes,” said Cristin Anderson, Huntsville Connect administrator. “A lot of people just don’t know this is out there for them.”

Anderson said the City now receives approximately 9,000 service requests per year from citizens like Andrew Kratochvil, who has used Huntsville Connect regularly for about three years. His most commonly reported issues have been streetlight repairs, potholes, malfunctioning traffic signals and drainage issues.

While the app does address a variety of issues, Kratochvil said he’d like to see more categories added, including streetlight installation, broken parking meters and repainting of arrows/striping at intersections. Anderson said the City is continually updating the app to include new categories and other enhancements.

When asked if he would recommend Huntsville Connect to others, Kratochvil said, “I always do and will continue to do so.”