The Love Lewisham iPhone App



Rachel: Uh, thank you Phoebe. Umm, well, what struck me most when reading Jane Eyre was uh, how the book was so ahead of its time.
The Teacher: If you're talking about feminism, I think you're right.
Rachel: Yeah, well, feminism yes, but also the robots.


Lewisham Council's Love Lewisham project is occasionally spoken about in hushed tones amongst social media agencies. A pioneering example of how the public sector can use new, mass market technologies to improve delivery of public service delivery, we've seen it crop up more than once as a case study in presentations.

The concept was very clever: Take advantage of the proliferation of digital cameras and camera phones amongst residents to make it easier to report flytipping, tagging and other nastiness that we all see in the course of our daily lives. However, as an idea, it suffered from being a little ahead of its time. While the majority of people probably carry a camera of some form with us during the course of our daily lives, for many people, taking the picture was only half the battle. There still remained the need to download the photo to your computer and upload it to the website. And of course, you had to remember to do this once you got home from your walk.

Launched in 2004, Love Lewisham initially supported a Windows Mobile app that was designed to make it possible to carry out the whole process while you were still out and about. That technology was used for years by Council employees but it's only in the last year or two that apps have gone sufficiently mainstream that the processing power of the general public can be harnessed. Although smart phones are still a niche product, technology has finally caught up with the Love Lewisham promise.

The iPhone app, launched recently, is fantastically simple to use. Downloadable from the iTunes store, with one touch of a button you can launch a service that automatically asigns the photo you take to be sent to the Love Lewisham website. It also identifies the phone's location at the time you took the photo and provides you with a very simple screen, to fill out the other details it needs - select from a scrolling menu what kind of problem you're reporting, type in any other salient details and with one more button-push, you're done. The whole process should take less than a minute.

Sod's law dictates that we haven't actually seen anything that needed reporting since we downloaded it. The icy streets mean that we (and seemingly the flytippers) have been out and about less recently, so we can't yet answer the critically important question of how well the Council deals with the problem once you've reported it.

However, as a tool, which makes it easier for us to help the Council help us, it is absolutely brilliant. Free to download, it should be a must for any local iPhone owner.

40 comments:

welcome to 2010 said...

Sounds good!

Anonymous said...

Pity It couldnt grit the roads.

Nigel Tyrell said...

Thanks for your comments. I look forward to more reports from BrockleyCentral readers and your feedback on how it works for you.. I've just used the app to report one of our stray brown bins. You can see the 'preview' new LoveLewisham site here:
http://preview.lovelewisham.org/Reports/Report/783519da-8836-4c0a-98a6-aa71e491a9a7

Headhunter said...

I didn't think that Lewisham, and for that matter other councils, had done a bad job of the gritting this year. Admittedly, side roads are/were a bit like ice rinks, especially the pavements, but the main roads have been clear throughout the snowy period. I've biked to work everyday since the snow and had no problems at all, apart from the roads being a tad wet. Much better than last Feb/March or whenever it was we had the snow and the entire system shut down and even the main roads were icy and snowy.

I was in Cork in Ireland a for the weekend after New Year's Eve and there is a shortage of grit there. The roads, even the main roads, were thick with black ice! It was awful, you could barely walk, let alone drive anywhere.

Dump IT said...

WOW you mean I can dump whatever I like, wherever I like - then take a photo of it and mail it to Lewisham Council who will come along and remove it . . . great . . . I was planning to go down the dump!!

Anonymous said...

Isn't taking pics of fly tipping rubbish doing there job.

Murk said...

Cuts out the middle man, therefore quicker surely? It's a nice idea, for the people by the people sort of thing.

Nigel Tyrell said...

BTW, feel free to post any images of Brockley, not just things our staff need to act on. If you just want to test the iPhone app, that would be welcome. Thanks.

Ed said...

"Pity It [sic] couldnt [sic] grit the roads."

Pity no one thought to grit the pavement outside Dukes until the recent thaw; narrow, inclined bend covered in sheet ice made worse by there being only one established crossing at Brockley Cross.

Yes I was cross.

Anonymous said...

All this new technology Is Great,But the Council struggle to do the basic things right,Less messing about with iPhone like kids and back to basics.

iphoneless said...

Anon@14.38: isn't the point that it will help the council to deal with some of 'the basics'?

As a late adopter of technology (I still have a very 3-dimensional telly) it will be a while until I can avail myself of this service, but I can still see it's a good idea - assuming, of course, that the council actually acts upon the photos.

OldRingtone said...

Isn't It similar to people phoning the council telling them were fly tipping etc Is done,dont always react quickly to that.So I dont see the iphone making any difference,seems to have just made a nice cushy job for someone.

Murk said...

You highlight the problem, you see it get done (via LoveLewisham) with photographic evidence. Can't see much of a problem with that. Unless someone at Lewisham is exceptionally handy on Photoshop.

Brockley Nick said...

@oldringtone - yes, similar but better. Instead of having to find the number, call the number, get through to someone, give a garbled description of roughly what the problem is and where (and then someone having to feed the clean-up officer that description back to them), it's all automated, which makes accuracy of response better and makes it more likely that people will report stuff, which in turn makes it more likely that stuff will get cleared up.

Anonymous said...

brilliant idea and use if technology....lets be positive and get lewisham streets looking decent!

OldRingtone said...

Maybe your right Nick,Lets hope the person walking by the rubbish at the time has an iphone.

Anonymous said...

How many photos must there be of that sea container on Lewisham Way and it's still there.

Why not offer to use the locality fund to get it removed?

Brockley Nick said...

@oldringtone - totally take the point about iphones. But they're rolling similar things out for various smart phones, which sooner or later are going to be as widespread as normal mobiles.

It's an incremental improvement, rather than a revolution, I guess!

Monkeyboy said...

have they consulted with the 'They Want Your iPod' team.

I can just see the hoodies hiding behind the mattresses now, mugging you and then throwing the phone pack in disgust because its only the 3G version.

(only jelous because I haven't got one yet)

Brockley Nick said...

@MB - haha yes - mixed messages. Hide it / flash it!

Anonymous said...

they'll be setting up flytipping honey traps...

Anonymous said...

I think that container belongs to Meze's.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the container part of Meze work to turn the next door shop into a bakery? Does anyone know how that is going?

Anonymous said...

Someone use the app to report the workmans plastic barriers that have been propped up against the wall between Darling Road and Tressillian for the last 2 months. I've done so with a standard camera but that doesn't seem to work...

bennyboy said...

that container looks awful

Monkeyboy said...

finally broken down and ordered a iPod. Must have Apps anyone? Appart from the lewisham thing obviously

Monkeyboy said...

I mean iPhone.....wateva

Headhunter said...

I'm due a phone upgrade and as attractive as the iphone is, I'm just not sure. It would mean upping my basic charge from about £15 for which I get 600 free mins and unlimited texts to at least £30 and possibly paying for the phone and signing for a 18 month to 2 year contract.

The only advantage I can see with an i-phone is that I assume you get unlimited internet access with the new package. MP3 player? My exisiting Nokia N95 has one, camera? the N95 has a 5MP Zeiss lensed autofocus camera already. I'm just really not sure I need internet access wherever I go...

Monkeyboy said...

impulse buy...Orange now own my ass for 18 months.

Brockley Nick said...

@MB - Traffic Rush (car game)

Adelaide Ade said...

This sounds like quite a ground breaking inititaive for a local authority and the Council should be applauded for leading the way with new technology.

Theres been a lot of positive comments on here about Lewisham's logo and people should be equally proud that the Council are pushing forward on the technology front as well.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking of setting up a website for people to upload photos of used fried chicken boxes dropped in the streets? As once you start to look they appear to be common as dog mess (prob the same people)..... An Iphone application might also be a good idea...

The Cat Man said...

boxes - what makes me laugh is that it is pretty obvious where the shops are, why isn't the council doing something about it? McDonalds have 'litter patrols' whereby their own staff go around the area to pick up their boxes,why cant we do the same here - or at least force them to put in a few more bins around the place.

Anonymous said...

Because the fried chicken shops are no more responsible for litter than the mung bean/organic latte shops and all their recycled worthy packaging.

Anonymous said...

The difference is it's generally only the chavscum fried chicken eaters who drop their packaging on the ground.

Headhunter said...

....usually with half chewed chicken bones and a few chips still in it...

Anonymous said...

Maybe they just want to feed the urban foxes.

Anonymous said...

I am welded (metaphorically y'all) to my blackberry, so whilst this scheme has merits, I can't use the service in the way described.

Isabel said...

To Nick,

My name is Isabel Minter and am studying for a masters in radio at Goldsmiths University London. As part of our course we have to make a news package for a news programme. I was wondering if it would be possible to record an with yourself about the new i-phone application 'Love Lewisham' for my package. I would love to get an interview with someone from the public who has used the application and therefore will be able to comment on whether it is a good idea. The interview will be played to a select audience who will be analysing it and if I have your permission I would like to play it on my radio show which broadcasts in the university. If you would like to take part in this interview then if you email me possible dates when you would be free to interview.

Hope to hear from you soon
Isabel

Alan Stanton said...

I'm a Haringey councillor and use a chunky old-fashioned digital camera to take photos and report dumping, potholes and other problems.

Haringey is currently trying out this app. And I'm wondering about people's experiences since January. Including all the doubts raised here. Does it work well not just to notify the council but get a problem tackled quickly? Does it seem to help the council to identify patterns and hotspots?

I'd appreciate hearing from anyone who can tell me.

@Isobel Minter: did you make your radio programme and was it successful?

Alan Stanton
alan.stanton@virgin.net
http://www.flickr.com/alanstanton/

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