Announcing: Subscribe to this issue!

Thanks to all the folks who’ve said “I care about this problem – can you keep me updated?” we now have a Subscribe to Updates feature on every single report across Safety Cone. This is a great way to make your voice heard, and get updated on issues you care about in the process.

You can head on over to a bike lane request and try it out yourself.

Some example updates you might get:

  • The city has acknowledged the problem and is sending someone out to take a look.
  • The golf course has called in a contractor to fix the sprinkler issue, so it should be resolved in the next 48 hours.
  • That graffiti you spotted has been cleaned up, so this issue is now fixed!

What do you really wish Safety Cone would tell you when you create a report? Let us know in the comments!

And as always, please create a report if you spot anything amiss in your built environment.

Closing the loop

When people report issues in their communities, one of the things we hear most is that they want to know when it’s fixed and, more broadly, they want to know they’re making a difference. That means that at Safety Cone, we aim to “close the loop” – not just report issues to the right people, but also get feedback on when those issues are addressed.

Today I’ll discuss two topics: our first loop closures and how we plan to get even better at this moving forward.

San Diego gets it done

We recently had our first auto-closure of an issue – San Diego, which uses the excellent Get It Done app, emailed us to let us know a graffiti issue had been fixed. You can see the whole issue on Safety Cone or San Diego’s website.

Check out the before and after of this issue below by sliding the vertical bar back and forth. (Note: profanity has been blurred out in the before image. The after image, happily, has no profanity to remove!)

Closing ever more loops

Over at Safety Cone we’re putting a great deal of effort into closing loops in smaller cities and towns, and we’ve got a few ideas you might see rolled out in the next couple weeks.

  1. The obvious: follow up directly with the organization we reported the issue to with easy “yes this is fixed” and “not yet” buttons.
  2. Give interested users some locations near them to check if local issues have been fixed. This has the bonus effect of improving community cohesion, and demonstrates to organizations that people really care.

Do you have thoughts on how we can close this loop even better? Let us know in the comments!

As always, please report issues in your community to getsafetycone.com, and we can take care of routing them to the right place…and hopefully letting you know when they’re fixed!

Finding the right people: DuPage County, IL

Here at Safety Cone, we’re determined to develop the most comprehensive database of land maintenance organizations in the US. Recently, we’ve been focused on roads. And it turns out road maintenance organizations are complicated!

Just to illustrate the level of complexity, here’s a case study of DuPage County, IL. It’s a smallish county just west of Chicago. To figure out who’s responsible for a road, we have to ask a few questions:

  1. Is the road an interstate? If so, it’s managed by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT, comment box here).
  2. But wait! Is it an interstate on which drivers pay tolls? In that case, you want the Tollway Authority (you can report a pothole here by clicking “Leave Feedback About Our Roadway”).
  3. Is the road a state route? Congrats, we’re back to IDOT’s responsibility.
  4. Is the road a county road? If so, it’s managed by DuPage County’s Department of Transportation.
  5. Is the road in an unincorporated area? If so, it’s managed by the appropriate township‘s Department of Transportation (DuPage County is divided into ten townships).
  6. Finally, by process of elimination, if you’ve made it here, the road is a non-highway in an incorporated town, and that town is responsible for fixing the road. In that case, you’ll want to go to the town’s website, poke around for a public works or maintenance department, and get in touch with them.

Supplementary materials: for (1) through (3), see IDOT’s official highway map (caution: file is huge and loads slowly). For (4) through (6), check out the DuPage County Highway Map.

Do you know who maintains your roads? Let us know in the comments!

Or, if you don’t want to have to figure it out, submit your report using Safety Cone, and we’ll make sure it gets to the right people. That’s why we’re building this database, after all!

Glorious efficiency

This post is a thank you to all the hard-working folks who get things fixed!

This week, we spotted a branch down on a little trail in our community. The lighting was pretty bad, but it was enough to submit a report to the folks who handle repairs.

A substantial branch has fallen across a small trail

Less than 24 hours later, this tree-handling team rolled up. Three people hopped out, equipped with cones (like a Safety Cone, yeah?), electric chainsaw, rakes, and of course the giant wood-chipper and truck to carry the debris. In less than five minutes, they had chunked up the branch, fed it into the chipper, used a leafblower to clear the debris, and swept the street where they’d parked. Then they were off! Presumably to make some other person’s day by keeping their community clean and safe.

An efficient team processes the branch into wood chips

Thank you!

You can check out this specific report here, or submit a new issue any time at getsafetycone.com. Try it out today, and improve your built environment.

Horror stories: Does anyone care about this tree?!

When there’s a falling dead tree behind your house, threatening both a power line and a small creek, what do you do?

You have three options.

One: do nothing. Easiest option. Feel vaguely guilty about it for a few weeks, maybe deal with a short power outage or a little flooding.

Two: the traditional route.

  1. Figure out where the tree fell: near the creek in San Jose, CA, United States.
  2. Figure out which authority level to call: HOA? San Jose? Santa Clara County? California?
  3. Navigate to the San Jose City website, see a number under Report Issues! Hooray, we must be nearly there!
  4. Call them, wait on hold, then finally tell them where the tree is located: near the creek in San Jose, CA, United States, close to a power line.
  5. Get told that San Jose doesn’t have jurisdiction over this issue. When you press, learn you should call either AT&T (for the power line) or the Santa Clara Water District (for the creek). Is there anything else we can help with, no, have a nice day.
  6. Try AT&T. Surely they have an interest in preventing power outages, you think. Get told no, this is emphatically a water district problem.
  7. Call the Santa Clara water district instead, and at last hear the words “thank you for reporting this issue” from a rep who assures you the issue will be resolved in the next week.

Three: use Safety Cone.

  1. Take a picture of the tree.
  2. Click and drag to mark the location.
  3. Hit submit.

Do you have a municipal issues horror story? Let us know in the comments or by emailing at founders@getsafetycone.com! And try submitting your reports at getsafetycone.com – it’s quick, easy, and totally free.

Horror stories: A dark and snowy night

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away known as New Jersey…

Allow me to set the scene. It’s a dark midwinter night, you know the type, with swirling snow and most people safe at home. The protagonist of our story is driving along happily, and pauses briefly at a big box store to pick up a snack. With snow on the ground, it’s hard to see the parking lines, so we watch as the car drives slowly over to the front of the store. Out of the muffled hum, we hear two sharp thunks. The car comes to an abrupt stop. The confused driver emerges, and inspects the result of his careful driving. He has not one but two flat tires, and on further investigation, he finds the cause: a jagged piece of metal sticking straight up out of the parking lot. He guesses it may once have been a sign denoting accessible parking. Regardless, tonight it means a long pause in this parking lot. After all, who carries two spare tires?

The icing on the cake comes about five minutes later. “Oh, dear,” she says, “did you run over that post? I made that mistake last week. What a pain.” 

The sympathy is nice, but something feels off. “Wait a second…” our protagonist asks, “how long have you known about this?”

It comes out that all the locals know about the issue. But no one has ever reported it to the responsible authority, so there is no warning, not even a single orange safety cone to mark the hazard. 

He vows, then and there, that he will never stand for such activity in his own community. This nightmare ends tonight.

Do you have a municipal issues horror story? Let us know in the comments or by emailing at founders@getsafetycone.com! And try submitting your reports at getsafetycone.com – it’s quick, easy, and totally free.

Hello! We are Safety Cone

Hello, World! Thanks for stopping by our blog.

Who are we, you ask? Great question. A few possible answers:

  • We are nerds, the kind who get excited about git, DNS propagation, and hunting down async bugs.
  • We are citizens, and we participate in our democracy and local government whenever we can.
  • We are programmers, with the ability to whip up anything. At least, that’s what we tell ourselves.
  • We are idealists, and believe that working together, we can make our built environment safer and more beautiful for everyone.

In short, we are Safety Cone. Come help us build a better world.