The city of Lakeland has updated its mobile app and added new features that let residents alert the city to problems and submit ideas for improvements.

Residents can use the app’s Citizens Action Center to alert the city of a variety of issues including potholes, garbage on the side of the road and streets lights that need to be fixed, according to Communications Director Kevin Cook,

“If you happen to see a pothole that needs to be repaired, take a picture of it and we’ll take care of it,” said Kevin Cook, during today’s City Commission meeting.

The user submits a picture of the issue, along with the address, and description. Once submitted, the user will receive a tracking number and be able to see how it’s being handled by the city, Cook said. If the user doesn’t include the address, the city will often be able to use geotag information on the photo to find the problem, he said.

Citizen activist Michael Maguire said he uses the app to report streetlight outages and notify the city of waterfowl in distress around Lake Morton.

 “On the plus side, it puts the city’s operations in the palm of your hand,” he said. “The only missing ingredient is access to the primary menu items on the website, especially the government link that leads to the commission and their meetings.”

Maguire said the updated app is easy to use and called it a “very strong improvement” and effective.

City Manager Shawn Sherrouse said in a news release he hopes the app will help the city respond to citizens’ needs.  

 “With the ability to use your phone to report an issue and easily find a contact number for a service, this app is yet another way for the city to be open, transparent and responsive to our citizens,” he said.

The city’s Innovation and Strategy department will receive and vet the ideas submitted, Cook said, adding that the submit-an-dea function isn’t designed to be a complaint hotline. 

“We are asking for legitimate ideas on how to improve or add to a city service for the betterment of the community,” Cook said.

The city is already looking into one idea submitted via the app, Cook said. A resident suggesting putting signage at city parks and trails regarding the temperatures on asphalt as a warning to dog walkers.

Citizens whose ideas are implemented will receive a T-shirt from the city and be recognized on the city’s social media channels, he said.

The app is available in the Apple iTunes app store and the Android Google Play store.

Citizens can also use the app to find information on events, pay bills, news related to the city, view live meetings, submit code enforcement issues, explore library services, and locate contact numbers for city departments.

Job opportunities, and parking and garbage collection information can also be found on the app, according to the release.

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Stephanie Claytor has been a broadcast and digital journalist in Lakeland since 2016, covering Polk County for Bay News 9 and currently free-lancing for LkldNow. She is an author of travel and children's books.

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