Why do citizens have to nag our local governments to find out what's going on even about cleaning up sewage all over their back yards and under their houses? How about if our governments deploy issue tracking systems? Here's an example of how that works.
As previously mentioned, Leon County, Florida, lets anyone Report a Problem or Request a Service through their web page. Then you can find your service request and track a problem using a ticket number.
This is not rocket science. Thousands of businesses have been using such issue tracking systems (also known as trouble ticket systems) for many years. There is off-the-shelf software to implement them. Beyond the obvious advantages to the citizens of being able to tell what's going on with their issues, such systems also greatly aid local governments by
cutting down on telephone time and complaints, plus letting government employees find out what's broken so they can fix it.
Around here we hear a lot about people wanting governments to act like businesses. I think that's mostly wrong-headed, since governments exist to provide services to people while businesses exists to make profits. But there is one big similarity: both need to serve their customers, and in the case of local governments their customers are their citizens. We hear a lot about fiscal responsibilty and efficiency, and some local governments make efficiently serving their citizens a priority. Leon County, Florida even makes its motto "People Focused. Performance Driven."
And it's not just Florida and elsewhere where you find such systems. The city of Dunwoody, Georgia goes even further, with a citizen-reported map of issues around town:
That's slightly newer technology, as in google maps, which have been around for years now. Sure, Leon County, Florida is a more populous place than Lowndes County. But Dunwoody, Georgia (pop. 46,000) is actually smaller than Valdosta (pop. 56,000). Sure, Dunwoody is in the Atlanta Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and Leon County is in the Tallahassee MSA, both of which are much more populous than the Valdosta MSA. But if local governments around here want to brag about having an MSA, maybe they should start acting like one.
I'd bet the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) and the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) could help find other cities and counties around Georgia that use issue ticket systems and even citizen reporting maps, and how they do it.