Streetlights App

Enhancing the streetlight outage and restoration process with a customer-friendly web-based solution
Design user interface for additional features and make usability improvements based on user feedback
An easy and accurate way to report streetlight outages, resulting in less service truck runs and safer, well-lit communities
Project Type
3 months
UI Design, Icon Design, Prototyping, Usability Testing, Dev Handoff


The Streetlight Outage and Restoration (SOAR) project resulted in a truly dramatic shift for the client. It was the first time they practiced user-first design and the change was evident in how rapidly the tool was adopted by the public and municipalities.

The client is a Michigan-based utility service that manages about 200,000 streetlights across the state. I joined the project for phase two, shortly after the initial launch. As the lead designer, I was to work on designing new features based on the backlog and user feedback. I started off by revisiting the competitive analysis and making note of opportunities where we could improve the web-based app for both service workers and consumers.

The work

The features in the backlog included:

  • Check outage status – The ability to check the status of a previously reported issue
  • Add a photo – The ability to attach a photo to a report in order to provide a clearer picture of the issue and/or the location of the light
  • Drop a pin – The ability to drop a pin on the map to report a missing streetlight
  • Extended repair status – A new status to be displayed for streetlights that need an extended amount time to repair

Check outage status

The public can check on streetlights that they've reported without having to call the municipality, and the municipality can check without having to call the service provider.

A map of Michigan is greyed out with a sidebar that allows the user to enter their email, phone number, or notification number in order to check the status of their streetlight report.

Add a photo

A means to upload a picture of the streetlight coupled with GPS coordinates and nearest cross streets greatly improved the accuracy with which the field workers could identify a light in the real world. Given that each truck roll is approximately $500, reducing them and preventing duplications was a big win.

The map shows various streetlights in Battle Creek, MI. The user has clicked on one to report an outage. The sidebar asks what the problem is and gives the user the option to add a photo.

Drop a pin, extended repair status, and map layers

As the streetlight GIS data is ever-improving, if a streetlight isn’t found on the map, the user can “drop a pin” to report a missing light.

Initially, the map only had two status – Not Reported and Reported/In Progress. The "Extended Repair" status was added for lights that would take a longer time to repair. Visually representing the status of streetlights on the map as well as providing search functionality and email notifications, gave a much better experience and transparency into a streetlights repair status.

Another feature we were able to add in was the different map layers, such as satellite view.

A satellite view map is shown with a pin dropped to add a new streetlight to the map.

Onboarding instructions

After conducting some guerilla-style usability testing on the existing site and the new prototype, I also decided to add onboarding instructions/an introductory tour for first-time users. This addition was extremely well-received, both by the client and the users.

The map of Michigan is greyed out with a white box on top that explains how to report a streetlight issue.

The impact

By providing an easy and accurate way to report streetlight outages, communities have a stronger sense of security. Below are some of the metrics we were tracking.

By the numbers (from May 24 (v1.0 release) – December 1):

  • ~200,000 Streetlights
  • 14,155 Outages were reported
  • 91% resolved
  • 9% open
  • Web Originated: 10,575 or 75% (vs 60% pre-launch)
  • Call Center Originated: 3,580 or 25% (vs 40% pre-launch)
“I want to commend your company for the development of this reporting tool. It’s easy-to-use, convenient, and the feedback loop is tremendous. Great improvement to customer service. Congratulations to the team who developed it.”

- Holland Charter Township

Service workers, municipalities, customer service representatives and customers all agree the new platform is a great improvement.

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