A mobile phone application, used by thousands of Johannesburg residents to report potholes, is getting extra features to help the city better cope with the problem.
The Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) Find&Fix app was launched last year for Android, Windows Phone 8 and Apple iOS smart devices to help identify gaping holes emerging along the roads of South Africa’s biggest city.
Technology company Intervate, which is part of T-Systems, worked with the JRA to develop and launch the app.
Joburg residents file on average 1 000 pothole reports per week using the app, according to Craig Heckrath who is the mobility team manager for Intervate. The app also has over 12 000 downloads across all device brands, according to Intervate.
But while Find&Fix is helping the city better identify where the potholes are, data on how quickly and effectively the problems are fixed is thin on the ground owing to field agents and contractors not having a similar reporting tool.
However, a future feature of the app will allow field agents and contractors to take photos of filled potholes while Joburg residents can then also rate the quality of work, Heckrath told Fin24.
“We are busy building the field agent app for them,” Heckrath said.
“This is to address the other side of things to say when the guys who actually fix the potholes go on site, they actually go along and use a related app to go and close the thing.
“The new feature in the app also allows the user to go an rate the quality of work,” Heckrath added.
Heckrath told Fin24 that the field agent and contractors app is expected to be ready within the next three months.
The JRA already has dashboard technology that helps it determine where the city’s outstanding pothole problems are, Heckrath added.
Heckrath said the Find&Fix app also has technology that prioritises potholes according to the number of reports filed about them in specific areas.
The app is not just being used for potholes though.
“More people are now using the app not for potholes only but for all road related issues i.e. traffic lights, potholes, signage, stormwater drains, manhole covers, general, road grading, weed/grass cutting, street names (pole and kerb), road markings, pavements and guardrails,” JRA spokesperson Bertha Scheepers told Fin24 in an email.
“It empowers citizens to become actively involved in the service delivery process in a medium that is accurate, accountable – as you can track progress and immediately receive a reference number for follow ups – and accessible at the click of a button,” Scheepers said.
Johannesburg has been struggling with crippling infrastructure.
In October last year, the JRA said that 27% of the Johannesburg’s roads are ranked as ‘poor’ according to the Visual Condition Index (VCI). The JRA blames increased traffic levels, vandalism and ageing infrastructure are blamed for the city’s road woes.
But the roads agency last year said it plans to spend over R1.6bn to “rehabilitate, reconstruct and resurface” its network during the next three financial years.
The JRA has said the city’s paved and gravel roads make up a 13 428 km network.