IT may be an abandoned shopping trolley in a driveway, a broken rubbish bin on the median strip, a busted handrail next to the gallery or a pothole in the street; public property gets damaged or misplaced and a quick-fix requires communication with the relevant authorities.
In the ACT, that authority is generally the Department of Territory and Municipal Services, notified through third-party government agency, Canberra Connect.
Whether you use a phone, online forms or visit their shop fronts in Dickson, Woden or Belconnen, dialogue with Canberra Connect is guaranteed to suck up at least five minutes of your life and include handing over personal information.
Even the online form requires your full name, with options including your residential address, home, work and mobile numbers.
If you ring direct, after waiting on hold, a similar set of details will be asked.
But in our new modern age of smart-phone technology a small company from St Kilda, Melbourne, called Outward Mobile has kindly produced an application to simplify the process.
Designed for the Victorian Government’s “Ap My State” in 2010, “Snap, Send, Solve” allows you to photograph the problem, add a note and location, and email it to the relevant authority anywhere in Australia, bringing the entire process down to under a minute in any location you can imagine.
Outward Mobile’s Eyton Lenko says the free app has been downloaded 20,000 times.
“We’ve had an amazing reaction,” Lenko told “CityNews”.
“There are hundreds of reports sent everyday from ‘Snap, Send, Solve’.
“Similar apps are available in many States, but they all involve back-end systems. We just thought we could do it in a lot more friendly manner. We’ve aggregated email addresses found online from council websites and with the app the email is coming from you. We just want to facilitate your report.”
In the ACT, “Snap, Send, Solve” sends an email to firstname.lastname@example.org; the correct address, “CityNews” has been assured, for making a complaint or pointing out a problem.
A TAMS spokesperson told “CityNews” there may be a risk with members of the public using a third-party company to process their feedback as “there is potential that the request is not received by the appropriate council”.
“Canberra Connect receive around 800 municipal-related jobs a week, with around three to four enquiries coming from Outward Mobile, the ‘Snap, Send, Solve’ provider,” the spokesperson said.
“Enquiries received from Outward Mobile are processed in the same way as enquiries made direct to Canberra Connect (either online through Fix My Street or via telephone).”
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about the time it takes to get a response from either Canberra Connect or TAMS, but it’s certainly faster and much less painful than listening to tinny hold music for half an hour.
“CityNews” staff notified Canberra Connect of a broken handrail in Civic on May 4 and received a reply two weeks later, the handrail removed and an expression of appreciation included.