A collaboration between researchers at the University of Stirling, the University of Sheffield and mySociety (a not-for-profit social enterprise) has produced a report on an attempt to understand spatial patterns of citizen reporting on local issues though mySociety’s FixMyStreet app and website over an eleven year period.
The work was funded by the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC), which was established by the UK Economic and Social Research Council as part of phase two of the Big Data Network.
… In this report we provide commentary on our attempt to understand spatial patterns of citizen reporting on local issues though mySociety’s FixMyStreet app and website over an eleven year period. At the outset, it is important to be aware of a number of methodological caveats that must be borne in mind when interpreting the results. These are mentioned throughout the report, and in the penultimate section in particular in a series of Frequently Asked Questions.
Put simply, we would urge readers not to jump to conclusions about local environmental conditions based on our results alone. There are many reasons for variations in the reporting of neighbourhood issues, such as differing levels of awareness about FixMyStreet between areas, and the propensity of different groups of people to report problems. It is well known that some people report more than others, so this must be taken into account when interpreting the data….
What we found is that over an eleven year period from 2007 to 2017 more than 1.1 million reports about neighbourhood environmental problems were submitted to local authorities via FixMyStreet. These reports are not uniformly distributed across the UK, nor are they uniformly distributed within local authorities. We see clusters of reports in some neighbourhoods more than others…
In order to make sense of the many types of issue that are reported via FixMyStreet, the research team developed a classification system which divided reports by broad type, as follows: ‘Road Safety & Defects’, ‘Environmental Health’, ‘Abandoned Vehicles & Parking’, ‘Environmental Disruptions’, ‘Public Spaces’, ‘Incivilities’, ‘Access’ and ‘Other’. You can read more about these categories on the project website.