Philly Weekly: 311 gets an iPod app

Philly's 311 Hotline: Yup, There's an App For That

In the race to see who’s going to take over the world – between Apple or Google, obviously – Steve Jobs may have just one-upped the competition, at least here in Philly.

Philadelphia is set to release a free 311 “app” for the iPhone that’ll let users log requests for city services and track them, Heard in City Hall reports.

Apparently this thing is going to come in “phases,” Allen Frank, Philly’s Division of Technology chief, told “The first phase is mostly logging requests and tracking them,” he said. “The next-generation release is where we do the rocket-science stuff. We want it so you can ask the app a question about the city and it comes back with an answer.”

Pretty snazzy. And here’s another thing. Turns out, 311 has been pretty useful to those Philadelphians who’ve put it to use. A March Pew study found that of the 15 percent of Philadelphians who’ve dialed 311 for nonemergency access to basic city information, 68 percent were satisfied with the information they received, in spite of the service's major budget cuts. At that, it has cost taxpayers less compared with other cities with similar toll-free city services ($2.20 per call compared with an average of $3.39 for the 15 cities Pew reviewed for their 311 report). Investing money and technology in something useful? Who woulda thunk?

It’s yet to be seen whether the iPhone application one-ups the competition even more. Google, if you want to stay in the totalitarian technology game, stop acting all flirty and bring on the Google Fiber.

About the author

Andrew Goodman, Community Engagement Director, New Kensington Community Development Corporation

Goodman is currently the Community Engagement Director at the New Kensington Community Development Corporation.

Previously, Goodman worked as a city planner and project manager for PennPraxis. His focus was on projects that combined community engagement and public space design, including the Central Delaware Waterfront Planning Process, the Green2015 initiative for Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, and the Bartram’s Mile project in Southwest Philadelphia.  Goodman was an early contributor to PlanPhilly and helped shape the site in its first iteration.  As PlanPhilly grew, Goodman represented the publisher and provided professional planning input and project management support as the site expanded its beat coverage, went through multiple redesigns, conducted an internal strategic plan, and researched revenue generation opportunities.

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