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City of Loris creates new texting-based problem solving feature

Published: Aug. 19, 2021 at 11:21 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 19, 2021 at 11:22 PM EDT
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LORIS, S.C. (WMBF) - It’s a way to get problems solved with just a few taps on your phone.

The City of Loris unveiled a brand new program called “TextMyGov” this week.

The line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and the city plans to constantly add more to it.

“I don’t have a staff of a larger municipality or a county government, so when they call, most of these people are not necessarily in their office all day,” said Interim City Clerk Keith Massey.

Massey realizes how frustrating it can be to call city hall with a question or problem, and the right person isn’t around to answer it.

That’s why the city went to work developing a way to give people an immediate response, without ever having to call.

“This is an easier way for people that may not want to pick up the phone and actually speak to someone, that wants more information, or has a question or has something going on they think we should know,” said Massey.

Massey spent the past few months coming up with as many keywords as he could, things like “pothole”, “building permits” and “weeds”.

He and a tech company programmed a series of automated responses to address each term.

That’s how TextMyGov works, you simply state the problem, provide a location and a picture if you’re willing, and it notifies the city official in charge of that keyword.

The city realizes not every problem will fall into a pre-set category, so if the automated responses can’t solve it, the city steps in.

“If it does not have a third response to answer your question, it emails the city official I’ve placed in the system as the one who needs to address your issue,” said Massey.

TextMyGov also works for getting information from the city.

For example, someone wants to apply for a building permit but doesn’t know where to start. They can text that term to the number, and it sends back a link to that portion of the city’s website.

“This can be continuously updated. If we see there’s a certain area of questions people are asking and we don’t have an auto-response, we can build this in,” said Massey.

Interim City Treasurer Janet Santiago is looking forward to a more organized way of helping people.

“I know it will be way easier for us to be able to handle complaints and customer questions, stuff like that,” said Santiago.

The city also plans to send out alerts for events and new developments through TextMyGov for anyone that chooses to opt-in to the database.

The TextMyGov number is 843-428-6444.

You can find a list of programmed keywords here.

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