Maybe you can’t fight City Hall, but starting Monday in Portland, you can click it.

The city is launching “Fix It! Portland,” a Web- and smartphone-based way to quickly report problems and raise questions, about anything from bedbugs to the availability of business development loans. The smartphone app can be downloaded through Android or Apple app stores, and the site also can be accessed from the city’s website at

The program has more than three dozen categories to allow residents to report things such as potholes, broken streetlights or housing code violations – for example, inoperable smoke detectors in an apartment building. Photos can also be uploaded to the city to prove that, yes, that pothole could swallow a car. And some categories are fairly wide-ranging: Clicking on parking as an issue, for instance, can be used to report a broken meter or communicate a desire for more spaces in the city.

The former, of course, can be routed to a work crew to fix, while the latter could open the door to a long-range discussion, which is fine with the city, said spokeswoman Jessica Grondin.

“You could really report any issue and it’s not necessarily one that you can easily fix,” she said.

Portland’s old electronic way to report problems was an email-based program that still required a city staffer to determine which department was responsible and then forward the complaint or issue.

The new system includes color-coding to track progress – the report is in red when a problem or issue is first reported, green when it’s acknowledged as received, and blue when it’s been fixed or otherwise addressed. Other users can add their name to a report, and those reporting a problem get email updates on progress. An archiving system will allow users to check to see if the problem had been reported before and what progress has been made in solving it.

“It makes us more accountable for things, right down to a pothole,” said Mayor Michael Brennan.

Brennan said he likes the fact that the system will allow the city to collect more data on common problems, and that can help shape priorities.

“It helps us make budget decisions that don’t just rely on anecdotes,” he said.

Grondin said the system grew out of acting City Manager Sheila Hill-Christian’s focus on improving customer service for residents – in keeping with a goal set by the City Council.

“This has been one of her big priorities and we want to be responsive and show we can perform in a digital era,” Grondin said. It also will allow the city to track its own responsiveness, she said.

Grondin said Portland is the first city to use this particular approach, which was created by SeeClickFix, a software company in New Haven, Connecticut. Bangor uses a similar program from a different vendor.

The city is paying $10,000 for the program, said Joanne Lester, Portland’s technical and customer service supervisor.