Preserving the cleanliness of a community is of the utmost importance. As citizens walk the streets of their towns and cities, they need to know that their elected officials are doing all they can to maintain sanitary conditions. In one UK town, citizens can now do their part by reporting any public hazards found via SMS text messaging.
As previously reported in this blog, texting has expanded from a communication device between friends and family to a valuable tool used for marketing and emergency services. This latest SMS usage takes things one step further by allowing mobile phone users to be proactive by using their technology to inform officials about any potential threats to the cleanliness of their neighborhood.
The Town of Erewash has implemented a service for users to text town officials whenever they see unscoped dog waste on their sidewalk. Such occurrences have become a growing problem, according to the online publication "This Is Derbyshire," and residents asked for a way to take action against it.
"Residents asked us to provide a text service and we agreed it was a good idea," said Barbara Harrison, a city environmental representative. "There is an over-riding message that this has to be made to irresponsible dog owners who fail to clean up after their pets – bag it and bin it. Dog mess is an eyesore and a health hazard. If you are a dog owner, you have a legal duty to clean up every time your dog messes in a public place."
In the United States, various cities have begun implementing services that allow citizens to take control of their community with mobile phone technology. These services range from paying public utility bills to uploading pictures of public damage to a government application, but the most popular functions appear to be related to the SMS application. Swift SMS Gateway offers the tools city and town offices need to organize successful text messaging services.
The massive blackouts in India last month resulted in over 600 million people losing power for as long as 48 hours. In the aftermath of the incident, analysts in the United States began questioning whether or not the country is equipped to handle similar events. While nationwide preparation remains to be seen, some utility companies are doing their part to alleviate some of the problems that could stem from such incidents. Illinois-based electric provider ComEd is doing its part by sending out text alerts during power outages.
According to the company's website, users can subscribe to the short code SMS service online, and by doing so they'll be able to keep up to date on the latest information concerning blackouts in their area.
"When an outage has been reported, you will receive a message notifying you of the outage affecting your service," says the outage alerts section of the ComEd site. "When an estimated restore time is determined, you will receive a message with that time. If the estimated restore time changes, a message will be sent with that new estimated restoration time. When your service is restored, you will receive a restore message."
This is a valuable service as it allows residents to remain constantly informed. According to the site, alerts are available 24 hours a day and seven days a week, with as many as seven alerts going out in a given day. An article in Popular Mechanics last week declared that the United States is "woefully unprepared" for a blackout of India's magnitude, but implementing services like these is a good start in changing that sentiment.