Gary launches phone app to quicken response time

2013-04-20T14:57:00Z 2013-04-22T00:13:08Z Gary launches phone app to quicken response timeDiane Poulton Times Correspondent
April 20, 2013 2:57 pm  • 

GARY | Gary is going high-tech by using a phone application to help quicken its response time to residents’ requests for service and by implementing Microsoft Office 365 to improve employee efficiency and save money.

Gary 311, a free phone application with a built-in Global Positioning System, will pinpoint the caller’s location as residents report potholes, litter, street light outages and other issues.

Callers will be notified by text or automated voice response when the issue is resolved, Gary Director of Public Works Cloteal M. LaBroi said.

Gary 311 can be downloaded through the Apple Store for iPhones or Google Play for Android phones.

“Once you click on the Gary 311 icon on your cellular phone, you can select your service request type, tell us your problem, take a photo and submit it,” LaBroi said.

LaBroi said Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson “soft launched” the app at her State of the City address Feb. 26.

“Technology plays a critical role in how we get our work done, not just in government but in most every place of work,” Freeman-Wilson said. “Upon taking office, one of our priorities was to find ways to work smarter when it comes to serving the citizens of Gary.”

LaBroi said the Gary Public Works and General Services departments were looking for a solution to efficiently handle a high volume of telephone calls for services.

“We determined that we needed a centralized way of tracking all of these requests and responding to citizens immediately once the work had been completed,” LaBroi said.

The $30,000 system generates weekly reports identifying the complaints received, issues, locations and status. The latest report shows that between April 1 and April 6, the city received 79 requests for service, the majority for potholes, illegal dumping and litter.

Gary’s Chief Technology Officer Michael Berry said the implementation of Microsoft Office 365 has both improved employee efficiency and saved the city money.

Office 365 is a subscription-based service which offers access to various services and software built around the Microsoft Office platform.

“The city’s original Microsoft Enterprise Agreement was $130,000 a year,” Berry said. “With this updated technology, it is now $40,000 a year.”

Berry said the system will eliminate buying new servers and software every three to five years and the associated maintenance costs.

“The fact that we were able to save money by switching to the new platform of Office 365 is icing on the cake,” Freeman-Wilson said. “I continue to challenge our leadership team to come up with more efficient and effective ways to deliver good government because that’s what our taxpayers deserve.”

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