There’s a pothole in the street, graffiti on your neighbor’s siding, or an abandoned car at the end of the block. Do these problems sound familiar? City officials hear them all the time and the departments that are responsible work hard to remedy them. But who is really responsible for these issues?
The residents of Philadelphia see these issues first. They report them to have them solved. But what if people don’t want to call in an issue or don’t have the time to stop by in person?
Philly 311, the City of Philadelphia’s hotline for information on everything going on in the city created a clever and quite obvious solution. Make an app for that!
With the tap of your finger, for free, without calling, you can connect with 311 with your smartphone!
Research indicates that about half of adults in the United States own a smartphone and 311 took advantage of this fact. Each city department met up with 311 staff and developers to ensure accuracy. Top requests currently are for the Streets Department, followed by License and Inspections and Neighborhood Services. With downloads of the app numbering over 10,000, which nearly tripled during Hurricane Sandy, it is safe to say that the app is doing pretty well. There are privacy filters and the ability to remain anonymous while creating service requests.
Deputy Managing Director Rosetta Lue explained how the application allows 311 and other city departments to better serve Philadelphia residents. “The original idea was a combination 311 getting more involved in Philadelphia targeting people who weren’t [calling] into the call center, faxing, or walking in … one of the last pieces we were missing was the digital side of it, the mobile side.”
The mobile app coincides with the City of Philadelphia’s initiative to bridge the digital divide, and increase the transparency of city government. By giving residents open access to city services via their smartphone, social awareness and advocacy are now right in the palm of your hand.
Although Lue didn’t predict city services ever going completely digital, the early success of the mobile app demonstrates the ways in which traditional means of communication are waning in our society as a whole. People need the Internet, computers and smart phones in order to engage in their society and community effectively. Philly 311, like KEYSPOT, encourages Philadelphia residents to be active citizens and to regularly participate in local government and the upkeep of their community by reporting issues and utilizing city services.
Download the app, create your voice, inspire others!