- Posted On: July 25, 2014
Some graffiti artists are responsible for amazing works, but the kind of graffiti that most communities see is far from art – it’s an eyesore and can hamper community development.
Graffiti doesn’t have to be elaborately orchestrated illustrations made by a variety of spray paint colors; it can be scrawling made with a Sharpie on a street sign or the side of a building. Scribbled pictures, messages, tags – anything unintended on city or private property is considered graffiti and the perpetrators are consider vandals. Cities everywhere are tasked with dealing with the effects that these vandals have on a community.
The city of Fort Collin, CO, suffered the effects of vandals for many years. People were defacing private residences, businesses and public parks. By 2010, city officials had enough of the problem and decided to tackle it head on with the help of citizens.
The city issued a report saying the “community members must be the eyes and ears for reporting defaced property. Graffiti is a crime, and when left unchecked, can contribute to the deterioration of our neighborhoods and the beauty of Fort Collins.”
Graffiti is a problem because it damages the appearance of city streets and public places and reduces property values. It’s a problem that is difficult for the community planning director to control. Removing the graffiti can be expensive as well. To try to get a handle on the issue, city officials in Fort Collins started a graffiti hotline and began looking for a mobile application that citizens could use to report problems.
Community planning director duties often include bringing the community into the mix to find solutions, and that’s exactly what the city did when it implemented a mobile application that allowed citizens to join in the fight against graffiti. All they had to do was use their smart phones to download the application, take a picture of the graffiti and add a location through GIS integration. Once they sent the report to the city, the citizen was kept updated on the progress of their case.
Fort Collins used Comcate, a company that believes government should be run more efficiently, to help them develop the mobile solution. Hundreds of citizens downloaded the app and have used it to file reports of graffiti in their community. They estimate that 50 percent of the existing graffiti has been eliminated due to the help of citizens using the mobile app.
Not only can citizens take pictures with their smartphones to offer a real-time view of the problem, they also use Comcate’s GIS location mapping tool so city officials know exactly where to go to get rid of the problem.
Comcate knows that every community faces different opportunities. We also know that your biggest ally is your resident base. Adopting a mobile solution like our Citizen Mobile Access allows communities, like yours, to empower citizens to take action and create a safer, cleaner environment that retains the value of your city.