SeeClickFix Annual Report: Statistics and Observations

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

By Stephen Musgrave

At our general member meeting on February 11, I presented an annual report about HCA's usage of to report and manage quality of life issues in Harsimus Cove.

Click on this link to read our blog posted a year ago about how we're using to help our membership interface with the City to get issues reported and resolved.  In short, I act as the "311 dispatcher" for Harsimus Cove.  The City doesn't monitor SeeClickFix.  When an issue is reported, I get an email.  Depending on the category, I will either forward the email to JCIA, PSE&G or log it on the City's online service request system.  Most issues fall under JCIA's domain.

You can see the "Downtown, Jersey City" watch zone by clicking here.  You will see pages and pages of cases reported within this zone.

Since officially adopting SeeClickFix in February of 2012, we've seen 383 cases be reported either through or their mobile app.  A vast majority of these reports come via the mobile app.  It's important that as many cases be reported as possible to a) improve our neighborhood and b) achieve an accurate sampling size.

Issues by Category

These are categories I defined after studying the range of issues reported.

1.  Graffiti 102
2.  Abandoned TVs 61
3.  Trash collection issues 48
4.  Dumping 32
5.  Traffic/pedestrian signals out/missing 24
6.  Abandoned shopping carts 23
7.  Potholes 16
8.  Streetlight out 16
9.  Miscellaneous 13
10.  Christmas trees 11
11.  Public trash cans overflowing 10
12.  Down trees/branches 9
13.  Road signs 6
14.  Excess utility cables 4
15.  Clogged/covered storm drains 2
16.  Grove plaza maintenance issues 2
17.  Traffic concerns 2
18.  Illegal parking  1
19.  Roadway painting 1

Observations About the Categories

The numbers below correspond to the numbers in the table above.

  1. Graffiti is an ongoing battle.  A comprehensive graffiti audit was done in December 2012 and many of the incidents remain unaddressed.  Other issues, while addressed, have been tagged with graffiti again.  I would be interested to see murals go up on some of the most abused walls as they tend to deter vandalism.
  2. Abandoned TVs have been common in the two years since the JCIA stopped collecting them with normal trash.  Please see our post here for how we're combating TVs.
  3. Trash collection is a chronic issue.  A combination of trash being ineffectively secured at the curb by residents, the lack of an education program about the recycling program by the City, and shoddy collection by Waste Management contribute to the problem.  Friday mornings are especially filthy. JCIA is responsive to reports of these issues, but sometimes they don't have enough hours in the day and some issues linger all weekend and into Monday.
  4. Dumping does not include TVs-- everything from furniture to mirrors to whatever can't be picked up by an individual and placed in a trash can.
  5. Traffic/pedestrian signal lights are consumables that are expected to burn out and need repair.
  6. Being so close to Shop-Rite, Bed Bath & Beyond and BJ's gives us more than our share of shopping carts.  It's difficult to have these effectively collected due to their mobile nature-- they tend to move to another location by the time the collection crew is able to get there.
  7. Potholes have been less of an issue as time goes on due to the City repaving Christopher Columbus Drive and Newark Avenue.
  8. Streetlights that are burned out is reflective of what actually needs repairing over a year's time. We did a comprehensive audit and worked directly with PSE&G to get them all repaired before we officially adopted SeeClickFix. I have a contact at PSE&G who gets issues resolved within days of reporting them to him.
  9. Miscellaneous represents the collection of issues either not reflective of trends or the types of issues that a case management tool is not good at tracking.
  10. Christmas trees are a seasonal problem as residents seem to have difficulty knowing that trees are to be put out on the curb on Wednesday nights, not our typical trash or recycling nights.
  11. Overflowing public trash cans are a chronic problem which is under reported here.  I included it because we've seen an uptick in reported incidents in the last couple of months and it's an issue that needs to be dealt with comprehensively with signs, education, and enforcement. If every incident was reported, it would likely surpass graffiti as the number one category.
  12. Down trees and branches are to be expected.
  13. Road signs are signs that are either left over from construction projects, signs that are incorrect, worn out or need remounting.
  14. Utility companies -- especially Comcast -- are notorious for leaving excess utility cables behind.
  15. Clogged or covered storm drains is to be expected, especially in the fall.  While this is a service done by the City, I encourage residents to lend a hand, especially if a storm is approaching.
  16. Grove Plaza maintenance issues generally aren't logged on SeeClickFix. (I have a log that I keep on my mobile phone and work with the maintenance staff at Grove Pointe to get issues resolved.)
  17. Traffic is one of those things that isn't a great topic for case management, otherwise this incident count would be through the roof.  HCA works continuously with JCPD and the Department of Traffic to explore ways to ease speeding and congestion. An ongoing problem, we have yet to reach satisfactory results.
  18. Illegal parking is another category that's not great for SeeClickFix.  By the time anybody at JCPA would get the report, the car would be long gone. A phone call to 201‐653‐6969 is best.
  19. Roadway painting, while a good category for SeeClickFix, is under reported.  A causal walk around the neighborhood will show you the problem is pervasive-- from worn-out crosswalk striping to missing "STOP" stenciling to the lack of corner curb painting.  The HCA has committed to doing a comprehensive intersection audit to help the City identify areas that need to be addressed.

Observations in General

The SeeClickFix mobile app is fantastic at enabling people to report an issue at the moment of observation. Nobody goes out and looking for problems, they find them upon their normal comings and goings.  Without the ability to easily report an incident from my mobile phone, the number of reports I would end up submitting to the City would be much, much lower.

Over time, as more and more neighbors have started to use SeeClickFix, fruitful discussions are occurring in the comment section of a cases.  SeeClickFix is a public site where transparency is inherent.  Here are some example cases which show how the system is used:

While dog excrement doesn't get reported to at a significant level, it is a chronic problem in Harsimus Cove.

The hardest part of the process is the case management: following up on reported cases (as well as my own) to see if they have been resolved. We have many "open" cases on that need to be audited, closed if they have been dealt with, or re-submitted to the City if they haven't.  Graffiti makes the process more difficult given it's recurring nature.

Eventually, we'd like to see the City work with SeeClickFix, putting me out of business as the "311 dispatcher."  Gladly!  They would receive the notifications, be able to acknowledge the receipt of the complaint and then mark it as closed once the crew has fixed the problem.

A lot of work has gone into establishing this program in Harsimus Cove for the last several years. I remain bullish on the perspective that it should be adopted by the City as another way constituents can report issues.  It's mobile app is a crucial feature. I hope that our efforts are useful to show the City how the tool is being used and how it can help the City be more responsive and effective in achieving our common goal-- a cleaner, more pleasant place to live.


Previous to officially adopting SeeClickFix, there were 111 cases that had been reported.  Myself and some members had been using it simply to track or own issues with our mobile phones when out and about. The success of this process led us to adopt the process, officially.

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