How is this any different than calling them up and telling them what is broken?
I can answer that. I've had a lot of experience fixing up information flows in public agencies. The difference is in what happens to the information in your call once it's in the hands of the agency. It often falls into an irrationally complex morass of criss-crossing processes. Watching a government or non-profit organization respond to a new piece of information can be like watching an individual pachinko ball drop through the machine's forest of pins, only you can be sure that it will eventually drop into the right slot, the question is will it make it there in time? The morass into which your request falls isn't designed; it has evolved, and chances are nobody has ever had the job of seeing whether what it has evolved into makes any sense -- until a new system is planned.
One way to think about an organization is to compare it to the best organizations of that kind. And the best governmental organizations excel at performing routine tasks. None that I have ever seen excel at reinventing themselves; that takes the introduction of an outside force. It also takes the eyes of an an outsider with a knack for seeing which processes generate value and which processes simply support other processes. That's not always clear. I've had clients, with a simultaneously smug and hopeless air, hand me a fat ream of "critical reports" that a system absolutely had to generate. The first time this happened I was alarmed given my slim budget, but I quickly learned to ask this question: which of these "reports" do you actually use to make decisions with? Inevitably causes the ream of "reports" to slim down to a half dozen or so.
But if the hundred or so other things in that stack aren't things the organization uses to make decisions with, then what are they and why are they produced? Inevitably the answer is that they're produced to carry data from one process to another -- something that a computer system can do without any marginal input of labor. That means that upwards of 90% of the office work can be eliminated.
The result of eliminating that work isn't (as is often feared) that jobs disappear; it's that the organization becomes orders of magnitude more responsive. I've worked with mosquito control agencies that went from sending an inspector out days or weeks after the report of a problem (by which time it is certainly past) to sending out an inspector the same day and if necessary a spray truck that very night. I've worked with non-profits where donations took weeks or months to be deposited go to depositing the check and sending out the thank you letter the very same day. It's not hard to be responsive when you have a system that gets the right information to the right person immediately; it's impossible when your systems take weeks to get you information you need right away.
How do things get that bad? Not because you have bad people. You start with inexperienced people who learn how to do their jobs from the people who came before them; and since nobody has a full view of the entire system they come to see their job as keeping the system running more or less as it has been. That's not because they're bad or stupid; it's the best anyone can do under the circumstances. When there's was a problem in their part of the system the do their best to patch that part so the problem goes away.
Experienced programmers will recognize this anti-pattern; it's called "lava flow". Eventually the system becomes more patch than productive process and the effort to keep it running approaches or exceeds the effort spent on doing things that are intrinsically valuable.
So yes, I absolutely believe installing a system, particular a system with mobile data input, can have a massive impact on a public agency's responsiveness. I've seen it happen repeatedly. Imagine you're in charge of dispatching workers to deal with problems, but all you have for information is a half dozen printed spreadsheets some of which have no data that is newer than a month old. Now imagine the difference if you can pull up a map of any kind of complaint -- abandoned car, pothole, litter, dead animal -- and the data is current as of a few minutes ago. You can now send your road patching crew out to that cluster of potholes; your animal control officer goes straight to where there were reports of strays today rather than weeks ago. Just in time saved criss crossing the city, often in vain, is a massive force multiplier.