Better Cities update: Fawcett City

I write irregular team updates for the mySociety internal blog and have decided to experiment with publishing a lightly edited version publicly as well so here we are. The naming convention is A-Z of fictional comic book cities in case you were wondering :)

Time for another irregular Better Cities update. Your authors trip to Florence for our amazing TICTeC conference has knocked our blogging slightly out of its stride.

So what have #TeamBC been up to? Well as ever there is no shortage of stuff to report on.

Matthew and Zarino helped Rachel by spinning up a demo version of FixMyStreet for a meeting with a potential client. It looked lovely and Rachel clearly pitched the heck out of it as they are very interested.

It is also set off a series of conversations about the lack of a generic demo site for FMS that we can use at a push but also share with interested parties just to ‘play’ with. This was something the Petitions site had (a previous commercial product) and something that we really do miss. While you can clearly get a great idea of the public facing side of FMS.COM from our main site it is really all the functionality we offer in the /admin that adds values for customers and at the moment that is all just a mystery until we visit (we also could do with some up to date screencasts — there are some old ones on Youtube but things have moved on massively since then.)

We had a couple of great meetings with a big County Council client and we are *really* close to the end of the project now. There are a couple of meaty tickets left (especially one about dashboards for ‘area managers’ which has knock on effects all over the place in our ‘Pro’ plans) and a couple of user experience issues that need ironing out (the screen resolution their staff are using present some challenges to our UI it has to be said!)

The All Reports page on FMS.COM ( is clearly a major thorn in the side of council communications teams — the perception is that local media use the data there, out of context, as a stick to beat the Councils with — so we are spending some time on this over the next couple of sprints to see what we can do to present things differently , but still accurately, so that Councils who are heavy users and promoters of FMS don’t suffer.

Matthew added all the new boundaries into MapIt and continued to field a rise in queries spurred by the General Election. There are some proper long tail queries coming in at the moment!

There has also been another burst of focus on a fun work for hire piece. To be honest this project has dragged on — while it isn’t that complex in the grand scheme of things it has its share of gotchas and we have been juggling it alongside some other non-straightforward bits of works. Getting a good clear run at it has been great though. Stuart and Zarino have done some nice work that we will end up recycling in future I’m sure and Martin has produced some illustrations that needs some love.

We are pushing hard to get all the new FMS Pro content in place by the 24th May. Martin is working on getting the pages updated based on some content Myf put together and I am looking into setting up a Medium publication as a Better Cities blog as an interim measure (Sam thinks the A record mapping should be relatively painless). We are also going to be starting a regular Better Cities newsletter (you can sign up here) which should be interesting.

OK — that’ll do.