Philly 311 app finally launches: report city service problems with mobile platform - Technical.ly Philly

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Sep. 13, 2012 4:30 pm

Philly 311 app finally launches: report city service problems with mobile platform

The city’s official 311 app is here. Though the project was initially long-delayed, the city met its most recent deadline for a Labor Day launch. The free app, built by New York City firm PublicStuff, looks good, at least during our tests on iOS. It’s available for Android, iOS, and BlackBerry devices HERE. The app, built for the […]

The Philly 311 app plots your location on a map and allows you to see nearby city service complaints.

The city’s official 311 app is here.

Though the project was initially long-delayed, the city met its most recent deadline for a Labor Day launch. The free app, built by New York City firm PublicStuff, looks good, at least during our tests on iOS.

It’s available for Android, iOS, and BlackBerry devices HERE.

The app, built for the city’s 311 non-emergency call center, has all the features you’d expect and an easy-to-use interface. Using it, you can report city service problems — graffiti, vacant houses, open fire hydrants and much more — and track the city’s response to them. Requests are delivered straight to the city department, rather than going through a middleman 311 operator (unless you have a miscellaneous, unlisted problem), says project manager Tim Wisniewski.

You’ll get a notification when your request has been updated or completed. The app can also detect your geographic location and show you nearby reported problems.

The “City Administration” tab on the Philly 311 app provides bios, photos and contact information for top city officials.

What really struck us is the “City Administration” page, where you can find photos and short bios of city officials. There are even links to call and email those officials. If nothing else, the listings give a face to the departments that will be addressing 311 complaints.

The City Council feature on the app lacks bios and photos but does provide phone numbers and emails. The City Council website itself doesn’t list emails, but it does have a form to email councilmembers. Council spokeswoman Jane Roh says this is for spam reasons and “evergreen” reasons, meaning Council doesn’t need to worry about changing the emails if there are staff changes. [Updated, see below]

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What the city is really excited about, says Wisniewski, is that the app could become a “civic engagement platform,” where community members can connect over neighborhood issues since they can view nearby requests.

The city originally said a real-time API would be released alongside the app and Wisniewski says it’s on its way. The city is just “touching up the documentation,” he said.

Check out the city’s promo video below.

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Updated 9/26/12 to add explanation for why Council uses an email form rather than listing emails.

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