This month marks a year of the Salinas Connect App, and what a year it has been. This app is a  breakthrough technology, changing the way residents engage with their local government.

The city of Salinas launched the Salinas Connect App in March 2018 based on a platform I originally put in place nearly six years ago. The app makes a direct connection between residents and city services. With a few clicks, the app allows residents to use their Apple or Android devices to create accounts, submit claims to the city and track their status as city staff respond.

From reporting uneven sidewalks and street potholes to parking violations, abandoned buildings, or a street light needing a new lightbulb, the Salinas Connect App has made a big impact on our city over the past 12 months. Since March 2018, residents have filed 13,000 claims and the city has resolved more than 11,700 of them.

I’m proud that this app has made it easier than ever for residents to contact the city and to see change in their neighborhoods.

Salinas resident Jerry Landesman is just one example of our success. Landesman is an avid walker, averaging 3 miles every day. Along his walks, he notices when things are dangerous for pedestrians. Landesman remembers the old system of reporting before Salinas Connect. “You would call the city clerk, and give them your name, your address, your phone number — every time,” he said. “It would be at least a five-minute exchange if you were lucky.”

A year into the Salinas Connect App, Landesman says his experience is completely different. No more phone calls, no more submitting personal information and much less lag time.  “The app makes it a painless transaction,” he says, “much more effective.” Since last March, Landesman estimates he has filed hundreds of requests, and he estimates that many of them are responded to within 48 hours to a week.

It’s a win-win for the city. The app helps staff batch requests in neighborhoods, helping Code Enforcement and Public Works work as efficiently as possible, and it helps residents see things get done.

Salinas resident Dave Clark, the man behind the Facebook group, Neighborhood Watch Help In Salinas, says the app makes taking care of your community more effective and satisfying.

“The app helps you build a better community,” Clark says. “You want your neighborhood to be better, from street lights to people parking their cars on the sidewalks, on the grass area, or graffiti.”

Seeing the responsiveness of the city helps, too. I’m working with Monterey City Councilman Tyller Williamson to bring this technology to the city of Monterey. I’ve also spoken with Seaside Mayor Ian Oglesby about the platform.  The more engaged residents are in their local government, the stronger our communities are.

Steve McShane is a Salinas city councilman who owns and operates a local agribusiness.