SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The City of Santa Maria has launched a new website that allows people to report and track non-emergency issues located within the city limits.
Called Neighborhood Connect, the website is a GIS (geographic information system)-based program designed to help city government track and identify trends, and to improve overall customer service.
"It is a powerful tool," said Mark van de Kamp, Santa Maria Public Information Manager. "You can use it at your convenience anytime time of day. You can use it on your computer, tablet, cell phone. You just go to the URL and it's GIS-based, so it's very easy to understand. You can do it in English or in Spanish, and it has the four steps all spelled out, what you need to do to use it. It's another dynamic way of engaging with your city to take care of problems."
The website allows users to report on seven specific concerns, including abandoned shopping carts, abandonded cars, general city issues, graffiti, homelessness, parks-bathroom attention, water waste and street trees.
Users who submit their email address will receive replies back from the city providing an update on how their concern is being addressed.
"You'll receive an automatically generated email acknowledging that we received it and we're going to be assigning it," said van de Kamp. "Within a reasonable amount of time, say a day or a couple of days, anyone who reports will receive a personalized response via email, if they provide an email informing them this is what we're doing about it and we're working to resolve the problem."
An interactive map is also provided on the website, allowing users to view additional concerns reported by other users as well.
"It has a map on there to show the coordinates," said van de Kamp. "There's a map so you can see your request or anyone else's request, and when we get these reports, they come in, they are colored coded as red, we just received it, orange, it's being assigned, yellow, it's in progress and green, meaning the issue has been resolved. You can put in an address. Write out some information. What is the issue, and then you hit report and it is assigned to the city. It goes directly to the department that is responsible for taking care of that."
With the launch of the website held just recently, the city's long-term goal is to continue to work on providing upgrades and improvements to the site, including the addition of more reportable concerns and other features.
"We are making these efforts to hear from you and to work in partnership with you," said van de Kamp. "By hearing about what's happening on your street or in your neighborhood, chances are me might already know about it, or if we don't, we can take these reports and cross-check them with what we already have and try to quickly and reasonably within our resources try and take care of these issues."
Any issues that are reported by users that located outside of the Santa Maria city limits will not be accepted.
Instead, those issues to be reported to the County of Santa Barbara through its website at CountyofSB.org.
For more information on Neighborhood Connect, click here.