ABU DHABI // Khaleel Ozbi is not the most popular figure in his office these days.
After recently using his employer’s CityGuard mobile application to report illegally parked cars near his workplace, the Abu Dhabi Systems and Information Centre (Adsic) employee soon realised his actions had cost some of his colleagues fines and towing fees, not to mention prime parking spots.
“I had no idea my colleagues were parking there. From my office window, I noticed the cars were parking on vegetation and spoiling the image of the street,” said the e-content specialist.
He had used the application to upload a picture and the location of the infringement on a Tuesday. By Sunday, the vehicles had been removed and the area cordoned off.
Mr Ozbi is one of a growing number of residents relying on CityGuard to address their concerns with the free app, which has been downloaded more than 100,000 times. Since its launch in 2013, more than 30,000 cases have been logged.
“The best thing about the service is that a user doesn’t have to locate the relevant entity,” said Saif Mahmoud Al Tamimi, a service development analyst at Adsic.
“In the past, you would have to call around, but now with just a picture and location we can do the rest.”
All cases – whether a traffic accident, pothole, pavement damage, jet-ski noise complaints – are addressed with the user being informed of each of step of the process, said Mr Al Tamimi. “We don’t close cases until we receive pictures from the entity showing the work is done.”
With more than 113 employees manning the 24-hour call centre, most cases are forwarded to the relevant entities within a day.
One Abu Dhabi resident said she had the chance to test the CityGuard’s efficiency a few days after downloading the app.
“I almost twisted my ankle on the Corniche when I stepped in a hole where bricks were missing in the path,” said Best Chapman.
The 32-year-old teacher said after uploading a photo of the hole and pinpointing its location on a map the app kept her updated on the case’s status.
The following day she received a message saying that the case was in progress; three days after that she was told there was a response available.
Nearly two months later, Ms Chapman received a message saying that the case was closed. An email informed her that the repairs had been completed.
“When I went back to the site it was actually repaired. I thought it [the app] would be useful and it actually was.”
Ms Chapman said CityGuard was a great idea and an easy way to report concerns.
“Most of the time people walk past unsafe and hazardous conditions and do nothing about it, or go to social media and complain. The app lets you go straight to the source.”
Of the three avenues for contacting the centre – phone, email, or app – Adsic is encouraging users to use CityGuard when possible.
“We do not want people taking pictures or video while driving but the detail of information provided and the speed with which it is communicated on the app is unrivalled,” said Mr Al Tamimi.