A long time ago I had a summer job as a road surveyor with a local authority in the UK. The job involved walking around the county entering the details of road damage into a hand held computer. Twenty years later, as I drive around the county, I would swear that some of the potholes wrecking my suspension are the same ones I recorded all those years ago.
What local government needs is some method for citizens to directly report the location of local problems. Perhaps something like Google Maps.
Better Pune have a mission to help improve the condition of roads in Pune, India. They believe that the the quality of roads in the city is pretty poor and reflects a failure of the municipal and political institutions in Pune.
Better Pune uses Google Maps to allow local citizens to report on the location of poor road conditions. All the reported problems are then shown on one large Google Map. It is possible to select the type of road hazard you wish to view by selecting from 'potholes', 'drain cleaning', 'water logging' and 'others'. Clicking on an individual complaint reveals the date the complaint was filed and its current status.
Via: Google Earth Blog
This UK based website allows anyone to report a road hazard by entering the location on a Google Map. The site also has a Google Map showing the location of all the reported hazards on UK roads. When you click on a tagged hazard you can retrieve information about the progress of the hazard, for example whether the council has actually fixed the problem or not.
There is no reason why local government couldn't introduce reporting systems for all types of local problems using interactive maps in this way. Yesterday the Google Earth Blog reported on a Google Earth file from the DC Water and Sewer Authority which reports on both working and non-working fire hydrants throughout the city. It is even possible to report broken hydrants directly from Google Earth to the authority.