A COUPLE of taps on a cellphone is all it will take Johannesburg motorists to report potholes or faulty traffic lights with the city’s roads agency’s Find & Fix smartphone app.

The launch of the app on Wednesday is part of a strategy to improve communication between the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) and residents. Further, the agency has successfully taken to Twitter, Facebook and a new website to improve the interaction.

The app can report, photograph and give the precise location of a fault, using the global positioning system.

With the precise location, the JRA’s response time is expected to be dramatically reduced.

The JRA says the app is the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere. US city Boston developed an app like the JRA’s in 2010 and now has a new one that can alert authorities to potholes by capturing a vehicle’s “bumps’.

In Canada, the city of Calgary has an app that helps users navigate roads in winter storms.

JRA MD Skhumbuzo Macozoma said on Wednesday that the JRA was committed to improving its response time to problems. Potholes, missing manhole covers and problems with stormwater drains would be fixed within three days, he said.

Faulty traffic lights would be fixed within 24 hours and signage improved or corrected within seven days of an incident report, Mr Macozoma said.

The app has been built with an automated back office that collates identical entries. Reported incidents are logged immediately, and automatically assigned to a regional team. A motorist who reported an incident would be notified once it had been dealt with, the JRA said.

The JRA app was developed by local information technology firm Intervate, and is available in the Windows Phone marketplace and Google Play store for Android. The Apple version would be available from Saturday next week.

Intervate MD Lionel Moyal said Find & Fix was built on Fix my City app, which the company had previously developed. The successful JRA app had spurred interest from other municipalities.

Mr Macozoma said citizen reporting would not replace the JRA’s road condition inspectors.

The JRA manages a network of 10,000km of roads, with nearly 2,200 traffic lights.

Mr Macozoma described the JRA’s app as a “curtain-raiser” for the City of Johannesburg’s app, which was still in development.

Metro police spokesman Wayne Minnaar said at the JRA app launch the city’s law enforcers would introduce their own app.