No More Messages After the Beep: A Smart Solution for the City of Veszprém



 
 

Concerned about ragweed risk or slippery roads? Having issues with waste removal? Dealing with power outages or pipeline bursts? If you’re one of the 65,000 citizens of Veszprém, Hungary, no need to call the Major’s office. While his voicemail once served as the funnel for such issues, the city has transformed operations with an online complaint management service that will help the city identify and prioritize areas for improvement.

Veszprém’s former system required citizens to call a toll-free phone number and leave their feedback in an answering machine recording. Messages were logged in an Excel spreadsheet that staff processed and reported, in paper form, to the officer in charge. The officer then called or sent a letter to the citizen after closing the case. Last, but not least, the paper file was archived for future reference.

The entire process was slow and inefficient; it took a lot of time, human resources, and, over time, space. And, it left a lot of room for error. Service requests were often derailed, sitting with the wrong administrator, and files were lying for weeks on the desk when the officer in charge went for holiday. The paper system also made accessing information difficult, limiting the city’s ability to analyze reports so they could learn more about what solutions they needed and how to implement them.

The new solution is a result of a partnership between IBM and the Municipality of Veszprém that began in 2010. The two teamed up to survey the IT and information infrastructure of the city and map the areas where Smarter Computing could improve the quality of everyday life. IBM also partnered with Veszprém’s University of Pannonia to establish a laboratory in the IT facility to strengthen the research supporting new innovations.

Insights from this study helped the city decide that a real-time online management system for service requests would be one of the solutions that could greatly improve the office operations. After discovering the business processes and organization of the office, the laboratory developed and installed a software solution based on IBM Blade infrastructure and IBM technology.

Now, citizens can send their remarks and requests via the city’s website, using streamlined interfaces designed specifically for this purpose. The appropriate officers get real-time notifications that immediately appear on the computer screen along with the required course of action for resolution.

Every phase of the service request can be tracked online so citizens can follow the status until it has been resolved. The system maps and records all the procedures and the organizational structure of the office, reporting continuously to the appropriate divisions involved. In case of delays or an officer being unavailable, it automatically reroutes and escalates the request.

The new system makes the process smoother, faster, more reliable, and fully transparent by giving continuous feedback to the concerned citizen. The point is to serve citizens, just like a company serves its customers through a properly operated CRM (Customer Relations Management) system.  This new integrated system provides an enterprise-grade messaging, social collaboration, and a custom application platform.

Two months after its launch, issue tickets have more than doubled, and the resolution rate has increased showing two things: a city can never get rid of everyday problems, and the people of Veszprém have quickly adapted to the new technology.

The project has an important benefit beyond its obvious advantages experienced in everyday life: it opened a platform for interactive communication between the city and its citizens. As such, it can be considered as a first step towards an entire e-administration system that is designed to improve city efficiency and overall quality of life for citizens.

 
 
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