Editorial: TextMyGov puts the power of reporting problems on county roads and in parks in residents' hands

When there's a pothole in the road, we may complain to our neighbors that it's wreaking havoc on our car's suspension.

When there's a broken chain on a swing set at our favorite park, we may just shrug our shoulders and let our child use the swing next to it.

Now, Whitfield County residents can report problems on roads and at parks with a few swipes of their fingers on their cellphones -- every day, any time of the day. The Public Works Department is using a program called TextMyGov, which lets citizens ask questions or report problems to their local government.

Whitfield County residents can text the Public Works Department at (706) 222-7811.

The system works through the magic of artificial intelligence. Public Works Director DeWayne Hunt explained how to use the system:

"You just text the word 'Hi.' It will ask you 'Roads or parks?' because we maintain the roads and the parks. If you text, say, 'roads,' it will ask you to categorize it and text back tree, pothole, sign, drainage or trash. Once you text that, it will ask you for the location and your name."

The program will then send report into the department's service request system, and then that problem is on its way to being fixed.

This helps cut down on employees having to type information from phone calls or from emails into their service request system in the format they use. That may mean quicker response times to the problems you report.

We are excited to see how well the program fares. If it's successful, we hope the county would consider expanding the system and other local governments would consider adopting it.

Cellphones have become such integral parts of our daily lives, so now we can use them to help improve the county.

For those who don't have a cellphone, or aren't technologically savvy, you can always contact the Public Works Department the old-fashioned way by phone at (706) 278-7167.

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