Gov 2.0: Cities embrace iPhone apps

invisibleSHIELD for iPhone 3G“A host of larger U.S. cities from San Francisco to New York quietly have been releasing treasure troves of public data to Web and mobile application developers,” John D. Sutter reports for CNN.

“That may sound dull. But tech geeks transform banal local government spreadsheets about train schedules, complaint systems, potholes, street lamp repairs and city garbage into useful applications for mobile phones and the Web,” Sutter reports. “The aim is to let citizens report problems to their governments more easily and accurately; and to put public information, which otherwise may be buried in file cabinets and Excel files, at the fingertips of taxpayers.”

Sutter reports, “By some accounts, the trend is turning the government-voter relationship on its head and could usher in a new era of grassroots democracy.”

“Residents of Washington, for example, can use the DC 311 iPhone app to take photos of graffiti, potholes and other trouble spots,” Sutter reports. “The photos are paired with GPS locations and then uploaded straight from the street into a database that local officials can see.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dale E.” for the heads up.]

9 Comments

  1. Jolly Yuletide to ye all!!

    Google, eat your heart out! Having said that you probably will by having a similar app for “ye olde molde new fangled droid app. Hide it from the terminator though, he doesn’t like droids!!

  2. I work in DC. Problem still exists. Potholes still not fixed despite reporting them. From the Navy Yard to Phillips Restaurant, that whole main street is full of them. None of the have been fixed…despite a new stadium in the area.

    I’ve been driving down that same road for the last 5 years. Those potholes are still there. I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only person to have reported them–prior to the iPhone.

  3. Reporting potholes and broken street lights is very useful but here’s what I wish I could do:

    I find a vacant lot. I take a geotagged photo of it and send it to the city redevelopment agency. I then get the zoning, a real estate listing, and any current development projects planned for the lot (along with contact information), and if it’s in a designated redevelopment area for the RDA. If the area is under review for designation, I’d like the photo sent to the appropriate surveyor. If there is a current project in the works, I’d like to see all public notices and comments on the project, and if it’s still open to public comment, I’d like that option. I’d like to be able to easily see nearby essential services like schools, banking, public transit, grocery and convenience stores. And it would help to have access to any relevant GIS data. I would also like to be able to find out census data on the area like number and age ranges of residents, number of units, range of housing costs, population growth, along with other local gov’t data like past and projected commercial and residential tax revenue.

    All of this is available now, it’s just a convoluted process of research and phone calls and public meetings. A good system can reduce that down to a few finger taps on my phone. It would be mostly useful to planners and developers, but it would be extremely useful. Is that too much to ask? I just want easier back end access; I can take care of the front end.

  4. Hi Guy’s,
    Problem still exists. Potholes still not fixed despite reporting them. From the Navy Yard to Phillips Restaurant, that whole main street is full of them. None of the have been fixed…despite a new stadium in the area.

    r4i

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