News

In Palo Alto, new digital tools aim to bridge the divide between City Hall, residents

Jonathan Reichental pitching for technology, data collection to solve some of city's most pressing problems

Graffiti in Palo Alto is a force both subversive and adaptive. It perches on trash cans, hangs off fences, parks on cars and wraps itself around local lamp posts, utility boxes, rocks, benches and bike signs. In late January, someone scrawled a profanity and a racial slur on a park table at Cogswell Plaza in Downtown North. A few days later, a person armed with a Sharpie used someone's green recycling bin to launch a concise (four-lettered, to be exact) tirade against the local police department.

This story contains 4495 words.

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Comments

7 people like this
Posted by senor blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 20, 2015 at 11:11 am

Wow a 5,000 word sales pitch.

What about the daily news???


15 people like this
Posted by Really
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 20, 2015 at 11:35 am

Too bad Reichenthal is often gone from the city and traveling all over the world padding his resume.

It's great that we have become a digital city what's too bad is sometimes the internet at city hall doesn't work, sometimes the phones go down in the middle of a call, and of course the employees would just like their computers to work or get some timely IT support when they don't. External features may be great but internal support serious lacks.


8 people like this
Posted by greattool
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 20, 2015 at 5:39 pm

I think that PaloAlto311 is a really great tool and will help with reporting issues and hold the city accountable for seeing them through.


8 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 20, 2015 at 5:52 pm

Can this tool be used to report gas powered leaf blowers in residential neighborhoods? Also parking violators late at night? I want to have a record of calling them in.


5 people like this
Posted by JQPublic
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 20, 2015 at 8:54 pm

Meanwhile, the City of Palo Alto can't replace a stretch of sidewalk properly after months and millions.

See this paper's Calif. Ave. article.


4 people like this
Posted by Factual
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 21, 2015 at 8:18 am

In response to the comment by Really in Downtown North, your information is not current. Here is the actual data: 94% of City staff rate technology services as excellent in regular surveys. In the last year alone, the time to respond to and address a staff technology need has been cut in half. In addition, reliability performance on over 300 technology solutions is close to 100%. In the past 2.5 years, the City has delivered over 77 technology projects, which have included a new telephone system and both a new wired and WiFi network, and almost 75% of staff have new laptop computers. The City is now managing and delivering more technology projects to support City functions than it has in its history. You can find more information on the City technology services and performance at this link: Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 21, 2015 at 10:37 am

"Really" brought up insight that might "still" be invisible to people higher up like Reichenthal, and "Factual" shows a bunch of numbers in the response without the details (or even an acknowledgement of a possibility of the issues).

1) About the survey, if the 6% of city staff who did not rate IT highly are in critical operations that serve the welfare and safety of the public, then the 94% approval is not an impressive score in my view as a resident of Palo Alto.

2) The time respond to address a staff technology need was cut in half - sounds good. But, does the report also shows the number of tickets or the number of times IT staff changed the due dates to manipulate the outcome? It is a common practice when KPIs are collected to measure performance.

3) The phone project was done. Was it done completely? If there are still complaints, there are still rooms for improvement, don't you agree?

4)75% of staff got new laptops. And there is a complaint about "employees would just like their computers to work". Maybe the complaint is about the new roll-out laptops? Are there any reports of how many tickets/ type of tickets related to the new laptops roll out? How long does it take to resolve each issue = loss of productivity of employees during the new laptops roll out.

IT has done a better job in communicating what they do "than it has in its history" (ahem, Factual's language). This article is an example.

I hope my way of reading the numbers/ data will not offend "Factual" or any IT staff who reads this comment. Palo Alto is a community of high achievers. We look into complaints to better ourselves and improve our business.

JMHO.


Like this comment
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 22, 2015 at 12:45 pm

> Can this tool be used to report gas powered leaf blowers in residential neighborhoods?

Yes and no. The so-called "soft launch" (which started over a year ago) only dealt with P/W issues. Suggestions to Staff pointing out that there were a lot of problems here in PA that exceeded the domain of P/W were answered: "We get around to adding additional topics in due time" (or words to that effect). I don't think at this point that they have actually upgraded the site to deal with other issues yet.

That said, the people responding to the postings have, on occasion, forwarded complaints/problems to the appropriate departments for response. So, you could try to post such a complaint and see what happens.

I believe that the Police would be the responding department. In that case, they already have an on-line reporting mechanism on their web-site. Why not give that a try first?


1 person likes this
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 22, 2015 at 12:58 pm

> Here is the actual data: 94% of City staff rate technology services as
> excellent in regular surveys. In the last year alone, the time to respond to
> and address a staff technology need has been cut in half.

Here is a link to the IT “metrics” page—

Web Link

While the metrics only show a two year timeframe, at least some real numbers are available for the public to see what the IT department is doing.

There is a lot of information that isn’t on this page, so we are left guessing as to how good the CPA IT department’s service really is. For most office workers, if they are lucky, they don’t have to call on IT for much. That said, software updates, virus removal, connectivity problems, hardware failures, and so on require the services of an IT person. One metric that is impressive is: time between reporting a problem and closing the problem successfully.

Issues with SAP have been rumored for years. Without some reporting on SAP, it’s not clear if the public is being fully informed by this metrics page.

At the least, this is an improvement over previous years.


Like this comment
Posted by old news
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 22, 2015 at 8:28 pm

This app has been available since last summer. I've used it a couple of times to report petty issues, like broken water fountains in parks, and the city did fix the problems pretty quickly. I also tried using the app to report serious safety problems like cars illegally parked in bike lanes, but I just got a response that the problem was too serious for them and I should call the police instead. Really a shame that the app has such limited usability. Why can't the city have a one-stop app for all issues (other than 911)?


Like this comment
Posted by Curious George!
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2015 at 1:02 pm

Link to the CIO's Speaking engagements. You should try to attend ;-)

Web Link


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