January 18, 2022

Introducing Our New Mobile App

Come across a pothole to report?  See something that’s broken or doesn’t look quite right?  Snap a pic and send it in!  The City of Bellaire’s new mobile app, powered by SeeClickFix, makes it easy to submit non-emergency service requests for these types of issues and many more.

All you need to do is open the app and follow the prompts.  Specify the location on the map, or, if you’re still there let the app find you.  Select the issue by category, type a brief description, and submit.  If you’ve entered your e-mail address the system will automatically send you status updates as city staff work to resolve your concerns.

SeeClickFix-Bellaire replaces our old, sometimes clunky Resident Request Center, providing an improved, intuitive user interface and the convenience of submitting requests directly from your smartphone.  It can also be accessed online at bellairetx.gov/seeclickfixbellaire.  For staff on the receiving end, request tracking and workflows are more automated and efficient.

The app also includes some links to helpful information on the City website, like the holiday trash and recycling schedule.  The SeeClickFix platform supports other functions as well, and over time we’ll look to upgrade the app with additional features.  It’s still somewhat of a work in progress, and your feedback in that regard is welcome.

Download SeeClickFix for free on the App Store or Google Play.

     

January 12, 2022

Expanding Our ALPR Network

Flock Safety
Bellaire’s first ten automated license plate readers (ALPRs) were installed as a pilot project in January 2021.  Deployed at strategic locations along our major thoroughfares, special cameras capture license plate data and send out an alert to the police department whenever they record a hit on a “hot list” vehicle.  The program has been such a success in its initial year that (1) those original ten ALPRs are now being funded in the police department budget on an ongoing basis, and (2) we’re acquiring ten more units as a Phase 2 pilot project, supported once again by a grant from the Bellaire Police and Fire Foundation.

The system has proven its value as a law enforcement tool in Bellaire.  Over the course of this first year we got 996 hits on wanted vehicles, of which the police apprehended 452; these stops resulted in the recovery of 66 stolen vehicles.  Not included in those statistics, of course, are the crimes potentially prevented by those stops, and by the deterrent effect of the cameras generally.

The ALPRs have also been useful in tracking down vehicles wanted in connection with crimes that have been reported in Bellaire.  When witnesses provide only generic descriptions, such as “a late model white sedan,” for example, officers can use that information in searching the database for any matching vehicles that were picked up by one of the ALPRs around the time of the offense.  The department credits the cameras with helping increase case closure rates, and improving efficiency by automating what is otherwise a tedious, manual process of pursuing such leads in an investigation.

At an annual cost of $27,500, budgeting for the continuation of the first ten ALPRs beyond the Phase 1 trial period was a no-brainer.  For the next ten, the plan is to install seven of them at strategic locations not already covered, and the remaining three will be mobile for use in investigations and for traffic counts as part of the City’s traffic management program.  As before, we’re under no obligation with respect to the second set of ALPRs after the Phase 2 pilot, and will simply wait and see how things go before making that decision.

January 3, 2022

A Consensus Vision for Organizational Alignment

I’ve always looked forward to the beginning of a new Council term as an opportunity for a fresh start.  To candidly assess what we’ve been doing well and what we could be doing better.  For me the biggest takeaway from the last term is that we as a Council never quite managed to coalesce around a consensus vision and policy direction.

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