King County Parks, WA: Resident-Staff Collaboration with SeeClickFix
Keys to Project: :
Digital optimization, Geolocation, Citizen Engagement
County:King County Parks, WA
200 parks. 175 miles of regional trails. 215 miles of backcountry trails. 28,000 acres of open space. Managing park services is no simple feat in King County, Washington. Downed trees don’t have addresses.
For years King County Parks didn’t have an online map of parks, making it difficult for residents to look up park locations. Residents could call or email the county or even call a city within the county thinking the park belonged to that city, and the request might get passed on to the county.
“The public is very educated in online tools and how to use them, but as a government agency we needed to do better about embracing them.”
– Eli Brownell, Parks Communications Specialist for King County Parks
With so much ground to cover, county parks’ staff can only do so much. King County Parks staff want members of the public to be able to see a downed tree, find out if it’s already been reported, see the status, follow an existing request, or submit a new one. Staff is also using their smartphones to report and view requests, giving them a better understanding of how the requests become data points they can easily pull up after the fact. Engaged park lovers, dedicated staff, and having SeeClickFix in place make it easier for everyone to work together.
The beauty of SeeClickFix is if you’ve got the app, it geolocates you and will instantly let you know if you’re in our jurisdiction, or somebody else’s. It helps educate a resident about where they’re standing in relation to who handles it, giving them the power to easily report and notify the right people. On the other side, it gives park staff a greater level of efficiency.
Parks Communications Specialist for King County Parks
In early January 2019, strong wind and rainstorms swept across King County causing damage and fallen trees all over the park system, especially on the backcountry trails. According to Brownell, if a phone call had come in, it would’ve gone to administrative staff, they’d call the manager, the manager would’ve called the field staff and so on causing a game of telephone and hours of inefficiency.
“The beauty of SeeClickFix is if you’ve got the app, it geolocates you and will instantly let you know if you’re in our jurisdiction, or somebody else’s. It helps educate a resident about where they’re standing in relation to who handles it, giving them the power to easily report and notify the right people. On the other side, it gives park staff a greater level of efficiency.”
-Eli Brownell, Parks Communications Specialist for King County Parks
Instead, many residents submitted fallen tree sightings via the CivicPlus® SeeClickFix 311 CRM, alerting officials where their attention was needed most. Park staff received the notifications, and dispatched crew members and equipment to the locations based on the descriptions and photos added. Due to the collaboration, staff was able to clear massive trees and debris in a quick and efficient fashion. Storms like those in January are not uncommon, making the tool a must-have for future events.
Beyond the collaboration between residents and staff, having data to analyze and share was essential to Brownell when implementing the SeeClickFix 311 CRM. When he first pitched the software, staff wondered if it would add another layer of work.
“If someone calls in a request for service and it isn’t entered into SeeClickFix, the issue still exists, but we don’t have the data to follow up. With SeeClickFix we have better operational visibility to indicate our level of efficiency and to help justify our budget,” says Brownell.
Recently, King County Parks hired two sheriffs to help address issues within their jurisdiction. These days, requests in the system not only offer insight into the needs of residents but also offer data trends that Brownell and team share with management as an indicator of where resources, like the sheriffs, are being allocated vs. where they might be needed more stripping hours of inefficiency.
Whether it’s a chance to get away from the noise, to connect with each other or to be out in nature, keeping these spaces clean, safe, and beautiful is a priority for residents and the people who are responsible for taking care of these special places. Having an easy way to manage and prioritize requests that arise is just one step King County Parks is taking to protect the quality of life for everyone in the county.
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