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This fall, staff and students at several Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools will learn how to report maintenance issues using their smartphones or other devices.
Historically they have called a campus plant manager to report a leaky faucet and other facilities malfunctions. Then the plant manager has had to find the problem and call the Maintenance and Operations Service Call Desk, or send it by fax or snail mail. The call taker typed up the request and generated a work order.
The process took a lot of time, considering there's a ratio of 700,000 students to only 800 campus plant managers — not to mention there were thousands of faculty and parents who also called in service requests. The call-taking staff was cut a month ago, so they needed a way to maximize their time. Last year, they handled 500 requests a day.
Enter the LAUSD Service Calls app. The facilities executive at L.A. Unified saw what the city of Los Angeles had done with an app that allows people to report potholes, graffiti and other public nuisances. The school district decided that type of app would work great for maintenance, said Danny Lu, a business analyst for LAUSD.
The second-largest school district in the U.S. worked with CitySourced to create a custom maintenance app. The app has been tested since August 2010 and 2,900 service requests have been received through it so far. Now that the bugs have been worked out and additional features have been added, L.A. Unified is launching a communications campaign with several schools to let staff, students and the public know about the app.
In effect, the app can cut out the middle man. Plant managers can more easily report issues. And service desk staff can create a work order in one click.
The customized app works similarly to various 311 apps that are available in many U.S. communities. If someone sees a leaky faucet, they can use the app to send a photo, video or voice clip reporting the issue. They also can describe the problem in written text and select other information from drop-down menus.
Using GPS technology, the app pinpoints the location of the problem and reports it to IBM Maximo Asset Management software. The analytics software allows the service desk staff to review duplicate reports before generating a work order.
The district expects to see more people using the app once more principals, teachers and students know about it.
"We understand that we're going mobile; everybody has a smartphone or smart device, and sooner or later everybody will have a tablet," Lu said. "We want to be able to leverage that and use technology to help us with our maintenance calls, basically allowing the public to help improve our schools using technology."
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