Detroit, MI Fixes 97% of Citizen Requests with SeeClickFix

Keys to Project: :

Collaboration, planning, citizen engagement


Detroit, MI




There was no telling just how successful the Improve Detroit program would be when the City of Detroit first adopted SeeClickFix.

Since its launch in 2015, the application has served as a tool for residents and city agencies to effectively collaborate to address issues that impact day-to-day life for Detroiters. From broken street lights to illegal dumping, residents are providing real-time information for the city to take action.

So far, the city has fixed 97 percent of the nearly 190,000 requests submitted to Improve Detroit and residents typically receive a same-day acknowledgment of their request. Building on initial success, the city has been able to expand the number of services they provide through the mobile and web app from 16 to 29.

  • What do these numbers show?
    Residents in the City of Detroit are invested in improving their city
  • City officials work hard to review, respond and address requests from residents and staff
  • Residents are really pleased with the app and especially the response from the City of Detroit officials — see for yourself at the end of this post
But how did the Improve Detroit program get to be so successful and how did city leadership get staff involved and invested?

Little by Little

Department by department, neighborhood by neighborhood, person by person. That’s how Amy Sovereign, Program Management Officer for the City of Detroit, secures staff buy-in for Improve Detroit.

By initiating conversations and building relationships to better understand the core functions and needs of city agencies, Sovereign is able to design processes that ensure city staff will have the capacity to handle the volume of Improve Detroit requests.

Here are Sovereign’s tried and true steps to get staff on board and on the move to Improve Detroit:

Assess the Need

Whether the idea to add an issue to Improve Detroit originates from the department themselves or based upon feedback from residents, Sovereign generally starts with a conversation with the Director.

In the initial meeting it is crucial to identify the following:

  • Does the Director support this?
  • Is the category a good fit for Improve Detroit?

Maintaining the trust and confidence of Detroit residents is integral to the program’s success. The city only launches a service on Improve Detroit if they can actually fix the issue and fix it relatively quickly. If city officials determine they do not have capacity to respond to an issue on a request-basis, they will not add it to the application.

Introduce Department Staff to Improve Detroit

Sovereign will then meet with department staff to introduce Improve Detroit. She demonstrates what it is, how it works, and the general life cycle of a request in both the mobile and web based versions. After an introduction to the program, Sovereign launches into a dialogue to better understand their work:

1. She introduces the concept of putting a new category up, and asks what their current process to handle this request looks like.

2. She listens as staff describe current processes to identify steps that can be improved upon and how Improve Detroit can be a solution.

3. She highlights the benefits the switch to Improve Detroit will have for the agency’s work and city residents. It can be an easy thing to overlook when rolling-out a new process, but helping others envision the value-add is critical.

Set Up Follow Up Meetings

Next, Sovereign initiates a series of meetings to begin the process mapping exercise for the future state. Using a white-board or sticky notes, she collaborates with agency staff to chart the life-cycle of the new request using SeeClickFix. Depending on the complexity of the request, the team will create a finalized process map over the course of a few meetings or a few months.

Move Beyond the Process Map

Once they have their process map done, Sovereign and the agency finalize the request-specific intake questions and form responses.

They also work through how to handle exceptions and what to do when it is unclear which city department should be responsible for a request. The process is known as the “Re-categorization” process which addresses submissions not handled by the department who received the request or the request lies outside the scope of city services. Download the Improve Detroit Re-categorization Process.

As with any new process, Sovereign and the team must then identify and clarify who is responsible for each action step once a request is submitted.

In order to monitor the success of the process after the app goes live, the team discusses the data that will be collected, reviewed, and shared. This data is integral for the city to determine if the move to Improve Detroit has delivered on its intended impact.

Once those final steps are complete, the team decides collectively on a go live date.

Get Approval

After designing the process, developing communication for residents, and assigning success metrics, the team goes to the agency director for approval and a confirmed go-live date.

Train Everyone

For a smooth roll out and a sustainable process, Sovereign commits herself to training everyone on the new function. Even if that means individual training sessions. That may sound like a lot of work, but it is worth the time investment if everyone can confidently use the system and no one requires re-training.

We Go Live

Sovereign will closely monitor for about the first two weeks. She also makes a point to have a follow up meeting approximately one week after go live. Even if the team says everything is fine, questions always come up in the check-in.

Rinse and Repeat

As new suggestions arise from staff and residents, Sovereign and her team repeat this process if the suggestions are approved.

Leveraging this implementation strategy not only improved the quality of life for residents of Detroit, but fosterd collaboration and ingenuity among the City’s officials.

To learn more about SeeClickFix, click herefor more-information to make an appointment to speak with a member of our team.

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