Barcelona’s citizens will soon have a simpler and more efficient way of reporting street issues, thanks to a Code for Europe project to bring open source software to the city’s services.

FixBCN is being created for the Catalan capital by İlhan Adıyaman, a Code for Europe fellow placed at Barcelona’s city council.

It’s based around the Open 311 system used in US cities including Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and Washington DC.

The number comes from the public services telephone number used across North America, introduced when the 911 emergency number became overloaded with people wanting to report issues such as broken street lamps.

“Barcelona wanted to collect public service requests cheaper and more efficiently,” Adıyaman says. “Open 311 means Barcelona can get them by Apple and Android apps, as well as via a website.”

The app was simple to adapt for Barcelona – “it transfers over just like changing a mobile phone handset”.

The system is currently in a beta testing phase, with the full launch planned for the end of November or the start of December.

Adıyaman did most of his work from his home in Istanbul, visiting Barcelona a couple of times to meet the city council and get up to speed with what was expected.

“It’s now made me think about my work more globally,” Adıyaman says.

“Istanbul uses a service but it isn’t open source. It must have taken them hours to build it on their own, but when I saw it, it really wasn’t that great. FixBCN is more convenient and efficient.

Adıyaman now wants to use his experience from Code for Europe in his home city. He’s already written a public transport app for Istanbul, but has been frustrated by the lack of material to work with.

“I’m waiting for Istanbul to open up its data,” he says. “They have the timetable data on its website, but you have to crawl the site, which makes it hard. But they are trying.”

BCNeta by manuelfloresv, used under CC BY 2.0.