The village of Brookfield will roll out a new way for residents to request public works services for problems ranging from filling potholes to trimming trees to fixing water main breaks through an app they can download to their smartphones or a widget that will be on the village’s website.

Assistant Village Manager George Issakoo and Public Works Director Carl Muell selected service tracking software called SeeClickFix, a module from Civic Plus, a firm that specializes in municipal website development.

Issakoo told village trustees during their Dec. 13 committee of the whole meeting that the initiative was part of management’s IT strategic plan and aligned with the village board’s goal for staff to focus on operational efficiencies and improved customer service through technology.

“In my past experience and working with Carl and talking about some of the operations at public works, we thought a great tool for the village would be to process work orders digitally,” Issakoo said.

As has been the case for years, whenever someone calls or sends an email to village hall about a public works-related matter, staff generate a paper service request, handwriting complaint information, location and a description of work that needs to be done.

The paperwork orders are handed out to the various public works divisions responsible for handling the tasks. Public works notes what work was done, who did it and how long it took on that same work order, which is then routed back to village hall for archiving and for the village to provide answers to the person who requested the service.

“The problem with this is we’re not able to interact with the public as easily,” Issakoo said. “The requests can get potentially lost or misinformation might be put on there. Whatever it is, the process is slower than it could be and should be.”

Implementing the SeeClickFix system will allow for two things, said Issakoo. First, it will provide a quick and direct way for residents to request public works services. Using a mobile app or through the web portal, residents can enter information about location and scope of the problem.

The app will also display to anyone using it all public works service requests submitted to the village. Staff also will receive any duplicate requests so they can see whether multiple people have requested resolution of the same problem. The system also accepts photos if residents want to supply a visual illustration of the problem.

“Every request allows us to ask specific questions to give public works more information,” Issakoo said. “Often times we’ll be in a situation where an email gets sent and we’ll have to go back and forth and try to contact the person because we need more information.”

Residents will continue to be able to email and call-in problems, Issakoo said, but staff will now be able to enter the information into the digital service request software instead of generating paper forms.

Requests can be submitted via personal SeeClickFix accounts created by residents or anonymously. Those submitting personal requests will get confirmation of receipt as well as updates on the work order and a message when the work is complete.

Completed requests will be directed to the public works foremen overseeing the various divisions and they will assign the tasks to various crews, providing them a time frame for completing the job.

If public works needs additional information, they can communicate with the service requestor by messaging through the software. Each foreman will be assigned a tablet to receive and access the service request information in the field.

Because the system is also connected to the village’s GIS system, public works will have a history of service requests for specific areas and help pinpoint trouble spots.

“We can actually go by date, by request type,” said Issakoo. “I can focus in on all sorts of different requests that come through and you can see where in the village you’re seeing the most [requests].”