Who should residents call when they notice a downed tree limb or abandoned vehicle in their neighborhood?
The city says residents don’t have to call anyone, urging residents to report issues through the MyFW app instead. The Fort Worth call center and MyFW app give residents a place to report non-emergency issues in their neighborhood such as issues with garbage collection or street light outages.
The city plans to upgrade the app by the end of the year, adding a search feature and expanding options to lodge complaints. Residents can take a picture and pull the specific coordinates of an incident on the app, making it easier for city staff to find the location of the incident.
However, data show that response times were about six hours longer on average when people requested service through the app. When people called from June 1 to July 25, the city’s average response time was about two days
The city records every request that comes into the call center. Call center employees often address questions from residents during the call, leading to lower average response times compared to the app, said Sharon Gamble, Fort Worth customer service administrator.
“That’s why it would show that the call center is faster. They’re documenting the call, resolving the issue, and then closing it,” Gamble said. “It’s not equal.”
The MyFW app, launched in 2019, offers 103 categories for residents to choose from, 31 less than are available through the call center. City departments can opt in to receiving requests through the app.
What should you use the call center for and what should you use the app for?
The call center can answer quick questions residents have for city staff, or direct residents to the right department to address their concerns. If you want to send a message to the mayor, or complain about a city vehicle — the call center may be the best option.
The app is typically best used for complaints or requests tied to a specific location, like broken tree limbs and guardrail damage.
The app’s response times can lag far behind the call center’s. Homeless camp requests can take up to 15 more days, data show. Water leaks and main breaks were addressed over 21 hours slower when placed through the app.
Other issues were resolved faster when logged through the app. Response times to animal control requests were about five hours faster. Traffic sign emergencies were also addressed about three hours faster when lodged through the MyFW app.
Dead animal pick ups took about the same amount of time through requests on the app and the call center.
“All requests are treated equally,” Gamble said. “When we get them, we get them; we’re not looking at how the message is received.”
Top three request by phone and on the app from June 1 to July 25:
- Garbage cart requests: 2,658 calls
- Animal control requests: 2,318 calls
- Garbage service missed: 1,536 calls
- Report fireworks: 463
- Solid waste violations: 423
- Street lights out: 391
The app has been downloaded 27,000 times, Gamble said, reaching the city’s goal for fiscal year 2022.
“We’re just going to continue to grow,” Gamble said.
Here’s how to get help from the city
The city tries to provide a variety of methods to access city services, Gamble said.
“We reach all age groups this way,” she added.
Residents may ask questions, lodge complaints and make requests through the city’s call center by dialing 817-392-1234.
The MyFW app is available on Apple and Android smartphones. You may read instructions on how to use the app here. Residents may also text HELLO to 817-835-MYFW (6939) to chat with city staff or make reports through the city’s website.
“Residents shouldn’t have to know how the city works to get something repaired,” Gamble said. “We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for people to get requests to the right people first.”
Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.