On The Daily: Ann Arbor named top 10 most engaged and responsive local governments

Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - 10:11pm

Ann Arbor was named one of the top 10 most engaged and responsive local governments nationally, based on the use of a local app. The A2 Fix It app allows Ann Arbor residents to report public property concerns directly to the city to address. Ann Arbor ranked eighth in most responsive local government nationwide, according to parent app SeeClickFix’s data.

SeeClickFix allows residents to submit requests to local governments in 342 municipalities. Residents report concerns such as potholes, abandoned bicycles, downed trees and sidewalk maintenance. The company also ranked Ann Arbor ninth in the number of requests sent in by residents, citing an average of 1,800 requests per month.

In 2018, the city of Ann Arbor closed out more than 12,000 of the 14,000 requests. SeeClickFix told MLive the data illustrates Ann Arbor’s devotion to their community and trust in their government. The City Council approved a three-year contract to continue with the SeeClickFix service at a total cost of $40,000.

City Administrator Howard Lazarus told MLive some requests attempt to address issues out of the scope of the city’s jurisdiction such as animal removal, or express opinions about the city. In addition, residents may request unnecessary services such as pruning trees. Because not all messages submitted through the system pertain to specific city requests, the SeeClickFix data might be skewed.

“This interferes with the integrity of the data that is reported out of the system in that it doesn’t reflect efficiency of city operations so much as it reflects the desire of residents to have city-owned trees aggressively pruned,” Lazarus told MLive.

The city has convened a committee to draft recommendations for improving the app’s functionality for the city. It hopes to address improvements in data reporting and train employees to better use the system.