Reporting those dead rats, filled trash cans just got a little easier

Jay Gonzalez

That sidewalk trash can that hasn’t been emptied in a while and that tree limb that looks like its about to fall will soon be easier to report.

Dozens of communities across the state will soon launch their own versions of Boston’s popular Citizens Connect mobile app. State and Boston officials announced the launch of Commonwealth Connect Monday and said 35 cities and towns will debut the app around next March.

“We have to change the way we do business. We have to do everything we can to be relentlessly focused on improving service at lower cost, and that’s what this program is all about,” said Jay Gonzalez, the state secretary of Administration and Finance. “This project is the epitome of everything we’re trying to do and encourage in making government work better.”

Cities and towns including Braintree, Everett, Malden, Melrose and Somerville will get the app for free for three years though a state grant program.

The app allows users to photograph stuffed trash cans, potholes, graffiti, broken signs and other quality-of-life issues and submit a report using their smartphone. The report then goes to the department that handles the issues; the user gets a status update as the report is received and rectified.

In Boston, where the app debuted, residents have reported tens of thousands of issues that have been addressed.

Rogue Reports

While many of the reports sent in by people on Citizens Connect are legitimate concerns over parking issues, trash and signs, other people have taken advantage of the service.

Last year a person submitted a report of a sighting of the McDonald’s Grimace character in Dorchester. More recently, someone complained about a flag not being at an appropriate height.

Bill Oates, the city’s chief information officer, said Boston handles a tremendous volume of service requests through the app and said the rogue requests make up a small portion. He said smaller cities and towns should not have a problem with the rogue submissions. 


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