This past week, a severe Winter Storm ripped through communities and wreaked havoc on infrastructure across the South. People in Shreveport were seeking a way to communicate the status of their situation with their neighbors and city government.
ReForm Shreveport, a group dedicated to growing a culture of engagement in order to build a robust future for Shreveport, identified the desire of citizens to share this information and created a simple web form where Shreveport residents could voluntarily report their status. The form, which was built using off-the-shelf tools in less than an hour, has three options: is the water running normal, low pressure or is it not running at all? The results were then collected and displayed on a live Water Outage Map. Thousands of people responded the first few hours and thousands more viewed the map to see what was happening in the community.
“The results were staggering,” said Luke Lee, owner of Fusiform Design Workshop and architect of the ReForm Shreveport Water Outage Map. “It was immediately clear which neighborhoods have access to water and which ones do not. Down to the block level, data could be seen for which areas need repair service.”
The City of Shreveport took note of the data that ReForm was collecting and requested access so that it could be built into their efforts.
“This kind of real-time data collection is crucial in a crisis like this,” said engineer and ReForm Shreveport founder Tim Wright. “When data can be crowdsourced, it makes responding to citizens in need much more efficient.”
But the Water Outage Map revealed something much more than data points about neighbors in need.
“This voluntary data collection underscores that communication with citizens in a crisis is paramount and that effective dialogue is a two way street,” said District B City Councilwoman and ReForm Shreveport co-founder LeVette Fuller. “People need to know that their voices are heard and needs can be communicated up the chain to decision makers. This is the future of how all residents can become more involved with their community.”
“ReForm Shreveport is at the cutting edge of creating a new way for citizens to change their city,” said filmmaker and ReForm Shreveport founding member Chris Lyon. “When thousands of people get involved in making the community better, it always gets better. Sometimes that move is small, but building a community is like football — it’s a game of inches. Every step we take forward is one that makes this community better.”
The form and map can be viewed online at reformshreveport.com/winterstorm.