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How many people does it take to change a (street) light bulb?

By David Turcotte, Director of Product Marketing, Biz Apps and Industry for Health and Government, Microsoft on July 26, 2016

Filed under Digital Cities

Repairing a lightbulb was no laughing matter. If it required alerting the local public services department and submitting a ticket, it could take days or even weeks to get just a minor task completed. Why? Because even simple issues relied on complex processes to be resolved.

Consider the streetlight example:

A citizen reports an issue by calling city services and talking to a call center agent. She then has to trust that the issue is being addressed, because there’s no way for her to track its progress.

A call center agent records the issue in a system with limited data backup. If the record is lost, it’s likely nothing will happen until it’s called in again.

The field engineer receives service requests when the systems cooperate, but is provided only limited information. Often, multiple trips are required to assess issues and determine needs.

The director of the public works department receives irregular updates on issue resolution.  Viewing data beyond simple aggregation statistics is a complicated, time-intensive task.

Multiple people, working across multiple systems that have no continuity. The result is a process that wastes both time and resources, and provides citizens with a poor service experience.

But that was the old world. Today, technology offers new potential for delivering high-quality, highly efficient citizen services. Consider how the same street light repair could be streamlined as a result of mobile and cloud technology:

Electrician is fixing street light in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.An IT administrator takes initiative. While the streetlight was still fully functional, the city IT administrator created an automated system to track service issues and assign tasks. Using the new system, the city can ensure that all items are accounted for and can gather data to predict future issues and proactively address issues with preventative maintenance.

A local resident notifies the city. When Ellen, a city resident, notices that the streetlight in front of her house has gone out, she calls the public works department to report the issue. She speaks with a call center employee who creates a detailed ticket in the automated system created by the IT administrator. The employee gives Ellen the ticket number so that she can track the progress of her issue online. Ellen learns she can also report future issues by downloading a mobile app that interfaces directly with the automated system and provides the option to post geo-tagged photos of problems for clarity.

An engineer makes the fix. The ticket is automatically assigned to a field engineer.  With the information Ellen submitted, the engineer is able to estimate a completion date and even provide regular updates as she works.  Ellen views these updates online to see exactly when her ticket is expected to close.  When the issue has been fixed, Ellen has the option to submit feedback on her satisfaction with the repair.  She can post publicly about her experience on social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook.

A public works director monitors performance. Throughout the entire process, the local public works director can track progress on tickets throughout the city. He has immediate access to data visualizations that are automatically generated by the ticket tracking solution, making it easy to see how many tickets are open, which departments need the most help, and what hotspots could use extra resources.  He can instantly share visualizations with the city council and the public for better visibility into his department’s work.

An integrated solution enables faster issue resolution with greater transparency for citizens.

Setting up a system like the one that enabled the streetlight fix would typically require huge investments of both time and resources. That has been especially true in the public sector, where resources are often already stretched thin.  For this reason, many municipalities are stuck using outdated systems and processes and haven’t had a good way to keep citizens informed and involved – until now.


AvePoint Citizen Services, built on Microsoft Cloud Technology by a Microsoft CityNext partner, provides a centralized portal where citizens can easily submit service requests from anywhere, at any time, and on any device. Alternative solutions can be cumbersome and complex, but AvePoint Citizen Services has a familiar, easy-to-use interface that simplifies adoption.

Because it’s an end-to-end, prepackaged solution, IT administrators can easily implement the AvePoint Citizen Services platform to serve their constituents more efficiently and effectively.  This gives municipalities the ability to quickly and easily set up systems like the one in our scenario without the need for experienced developers.

Get started today.

AvePoint Citizen Services built on Microsoft Cloud Technology can help your agency connect with its citizens and promote innovation in today’s increasingly digital world. Unlock your potential today with the AvePoint Citizen Services solution. Learn more about the solution on the AppSource marketplace.


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