David Hexem, chief information officer for Redlands, CA, was in Sacramento Monday to receive an award from the Center for Digital Government for the city’s use of its mobile 311 smartphone app. The application, powered by Rock Solid (previously CitySourced), was awarded the 2012 Best of California award for Best Application Serving the Public.

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The app allows residents to report and send photos, video and/or audio recordings of various issues – such as graffiti or potholes in streets – to city staff using geo-tagging technology to automatically target problem locations and, in turn, provides a simple reporting process for users.

The Redlands 311 app, available free for smartphones, allows users to report crime, flooding, homelessness and other issues. Released in February 2011, the app has helped the city and residents get those problem areas addressed as quickly as possible. Also, the app helps deliver the issues to the right department without a word being lost in the shuffle of things.

Rather than have someone come to speak with the city clerk or make a phone call, a work order is created from the app and sent directly to the right department or staff member, said Carl Baker, public information officer for Redlands.

What this was designed to do was eliminate those steps and put citizens or resident issues directly into the work system. – Carl Baker, Redlands PIO

While it didn’t necessarily reduce the workload, Baker continued, it did reduce that workflow system and helped reel in a whole new group of people in the city who were not reporting issues prior to the app’s release.

The number of reports have increased since the launching of the app. Not because there are more problems, but there is more engagement with residents.

When released last year, Redlands was only one of four cities in the state to use similar versions of the app, joining San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Glendale.