Wilmington needs to get with the times and get a 311 app - Technical.ly Delaware

Civic

Jul. 21, 2015 12:08 pm

Wilmington needs to get with the times and get a 311 app

A data-informed solution for the city's crumbling sidewalks.
A bumpy road.

A bumpy road.

(Photo by Flickr user Matt Hintsa, used under a Creative Commons license)

Wilmington has Uber. Wilmington has Zipcar. Wilmington has concerned citizens.

Wilmington has the technology and the user base, but the city does not have a modern mode of communication for citizens to interact with their government.

Yesterday, the News Journal published a report on the city’s failure to repair its aggressively eroded brick sidewalks, detailing the financial and political struggle that has been preventing the municipality from taking care of its blemishes since the late 1990s.

Neighborhood associations are irate. The city government is fed up. But worst of all, Wilmington citizens have been hamstrung, and their transportation woes are only going to get louder. From the News Journal:

James Barnes, 70, a resident of the senior housing center Sacred Heart Village who uses a power chair to get around, said he and his neighbors can’t get to the closest convenience store because it means traveling over damaged brick sidewalks on 10th Street.

What Wilmington needs is a 311 app — a solution not addressed by the News Journal.

Look at Philadelphia, which introduced its app three years ago. Users there can report city service issues directly to the government and track the city’s response, holding them directly accountable for well, doing their job. It’s developed so much over the past three years that the city is now working to make the app’s services as predictive as possible (giving citizens proactive government service rather than reactive).

Take another look at SeeClickFix, which helps engaged citizens report service issues no matter the size of the municipality — from small towns like Bedford Park, Ill., to big cities like San Francisco.

So, why doesn’t Wilmington have a service like this? Is it a lack of awareness surrounding the existence of technology like this? Is it a disengaged citizenry? Or a government that just doesn’t want to be bothered with city service reports?

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