The city of Charleston plans to implement a new software tool meant to give citizens another way to report issues to municipal officials.
Citibot was developed and co-founded by Bratton Riley, the son of former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley. It allows citizens to use text messaging to ask questions and make service requests to local governments.
“We want to break down the barriers of inclusion that exist between residents and their governments, and a great way to do that is begin with the communication channel that people are more likely to use,” Bratton Riley said. “And we’ve got data … showing that not only are we all texting now, but that’s actually the channel that residents would like to use to interact with local government.
Charleston is the third local government in the Lowcountry to begin using the software. North Charleston was the first in the U.S. to launch Citibot in July 2017, and Charleston County began using the software in June 2018. Other municipalities using Citibot include Fort Worth and Arlington, Texas, Boulder, Colo., Chamblee, Ga., Queen Creek, Ariz., and Tukwila, Wash.
Susan Poteat, director of process and service improvement for the city of Charleston, said Citibot was chosen over other potential vendors because of its integration with the city’s existing customer relationship management system.
“Some of the systems that we’d looked at in the past, you’d have to go in and manually enter the request information, so it would be a duplication of entry,” she said.
Poteat said the city is still testing Citibot internally but it hopes to go live with the software by the end of the month.
“Basically our hope is that it just gives another option for citizens to research information regarding city services or report requests for service,” she said.s