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Selectmen OK Smart Phone App

Westborough will have Commonwealth Connect for three years, through a state grant to Boston.

Westborough residents’ smart phones will lead public works crews to potholes soon.

Tuesday night, selectmen clicked “OK” on bringing the new Commonwealth Connect smart phone app to Westborough for the next three years.

Selectmen authorized Town Manager Jim Malloy to sign all contracts required to do that.

Malloy said Westborough was among 35 Massachusetts municipalities chosen through an application process to get the app.

SeeClickFix is behind the app, which Boston developed through a state grant, Malloy explained. The grant requires Boston to “share it with other municipalities,” he said.

Westborough will try the app with “three or four different items that are frequently complained about,” such as potholes, he said.

Residents can download the app and submit a photo of the pothole to the public works department, Malloy said. This will “automatically generate” a work order, an automatic reply to the resident when the DPW gets it,  and a message to the resident when the issue is fixed, he said.

Selectmen Chairman Leigh Emery said the app will encourage “more participation” from residents.

“I think this is exciting,” she said.

Malloy said Westborough can contract with See Click Fix after the three years if the app is popular here. The contract would cost about $4,000 to $5,000 annually, he said.

“If we get dozens and dozens of work orders generated from it, then obviously it is a useful tool where people are using it,” Malloy said.

Selectman George Barrette said he supports trying the app, but “I don’t want it to be an automatic that we get it” once the grant ends.

“There’s a running joke that every time we have a grant, when the grant money runs out, it goes into the budget,” he said.

“If it’s not highly utilized, I think it should go away.”

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