National pothole reporting system

As a cyclist subject to the abysmal state of local roads I wondered if there was a scheme that could be used to identify issues in the full public gaze. Yes - designed for forcing public bodies to respond using transparent methods.
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When you tell the local council about defects in the road nothing happens. (I speak from bitter personal experience!)

All that a council-run web reporting sceme does (I've tried some and they have serious problems) is puts it into somebody's in-tray, possibly. There is no transparent process, no progress reporting, no measuring how quickly the issues have been dealt with or if the problems have been addressed competently. If I see a defect I want to see it's previous history of bodged patching and who else has reported it.

So the key objective is to create an open public web based system where problems can't be hidden away and forgotten about, where proper progress and performance monitoring is carried out, and that is easy to use.


In essence the system collects defect notifications from the public, channels them to the appropriate maintenance body, and maintains a record of progress.

Extensive use is made of URLs to web pages placed in emails in order to direct the process and protect privacy. For example a council can't reply directly by email to a reporter, they have to go via the system so that it goes on the record and follows a set procedure. Then the system does the necessary passing on of messages with appropriate embedded URLs to the next steps and so on.

A job management system is built-in so that councils can instigate action from their inspectors and contractors.

Method to force open municipal machinery

This design is an example of how public ownership of priorities can be used to drive the provision of public services. It manages the complete process of problem - responsibility - quality of response using the criteria that are important to the general public - not those of the backsliding, bureaucrats.
  • Current situation including prommises and responsibility is clearly shown
  • Previous attempts at dealing with matters are clearly shown
  • Speed and quality of response are invariably logged and available for analysis and scrutiny
  • The process is designed to encourage openness and preserve privacy.


The full design is 77 detailed pages which gives an idea of the detail. The technical highlights are nothing much out of the ordinary but the clever bits are in the way email and web pages are combined to direct and control access and process. Business rules and communications protocols (including privacy) are enforced.
This design is made available as an example of how a community can implement a system that serves its needs rather than have to rely on whatever self-serving system of whatever quality and precious little supervision the authorities deign to provide.
  1. A scheme like this is 100 times too cheap for a government funded IT project. Not only that but it has measurable benefits in being able to audit and analyse the performance of public authorities.
  2. As well as being detailed and having pretty diagrams the design identifies what the success and failure factors are with quality goals. See other articles for more on these useful concpts.
  1. The full design is available on request.
  2. There must be other aspects of public service that could benefit from being brought into the daylight.

Contact details are in the article