Fixing the road to ruin

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Special Feature

Potholes in the road are not just annoying, they can be downright dangerous. But it sometimes seems an age until the people who fix the roads – fix the roads!

In this special feature, we look at a mobile phone app and website designed to bring our potholes and road fixers together.

We will use the app FixMyStreet to put Norfolk County Council Highways dept. to the test to see how long they take to fix a pothole in Beck Lane, Tuttington.

The website and app in question is FixMyStreet by mySociety, a project of UK Citizens Online Democracy – a registered charity.

The way it works is that a concerned citizen with a pothole in question enters the pothole location onto a map. FixMyStreet passes this info to the local County Council Highways department who sends someone round to fix the hole. Simples!

1. In this test, we started off by trying out the mobile phone app on an Android phone. Locating and downloading the app in Google Play Store was easy. Before firing it up we made sure we had the geolocation thingy activated so they knew where we were (sound effects from Jaws).

2. After starting the FixMyStreet app, we were presented with a map with the crosshairs located at our current position – we had the geolocation gizmo on. The map also allows you to enter your location by postcode or placename. Make sure you are near to an offending pothole.

3. We pressed the ‘New Report Here’ bar at the bottom of the screen. A spanner icon and location pin appeared together with a ‘Confirm Location’ request to press. We pressed. This took us on to the next screen where a photo could be added.

4. We were also presented with the option to add an existing photo or to take a new photo. We took a new photo and pressed OK.
5. We were happy with our photo and then pressed the ‘Next’ button at the top of the screen.
6. Next we added a title, picked from a list to describe the problem, and then added a few more details.
7. We entered our email address and they quickly sent an email back requesting that we confirm we wanted the report sent.

(Our Technical Director Jackie is seen here sizing up the road damage in Beck Lane)

8. We clicked ‘Yes, send my report’. Soon after, we received an email confirming our report had been sent followed by one from Norfolk Highways confirming receipt of our report. We then got another email from Norfolk Highways giving us a ticket number enabling us to track progress online. Voila!

Keep an eye out here to follow up what happens next…


Three days after initially submitting our pothole report to FixMyStreet we got another email from Norfolk County Council Highways confirming we had a problem. They said it can take up to 6 weeks to fix such problems which we thought reasonable if, for instance, the repair is large.

But, no sooner had I finished reading the email when I spied the yellow Highways repair truck in Beck Lane and seeing the efficient road repair technicians hard at work. They had finished in a jiffy and while the repair was what you might call a quick fix, we hope it should do the job until the next top-dressing work happens.

Happy to give credit to NCC Highways where it is due!

You can also enter your details directly on the FixMyStreet website.

First, enter your postcode in the box provided and you are presented with a map. Click on the map the place where the pothole is located and a location pin will appear. Then, enter the details in the boxes of the panel to the left of the screen, and a photo if you like. Press the ‘Tell us about you’ bar to go to the next page, enter your details and email address and then press ‘Submit’. You will see from the map if someone has already reported your pothole and get some idea how many more reports are in the area. That’s all there is to it. Happy pothole reporting!

And thanks go to Jeremy Hickling in Burgh for pointing us towards the FixMyStreet app.

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