NYC, Boston, and D.C. Make Strides to Improve 311 Services

Over the past week or so there have been significant advancements in the offerings of 311 services in New York, Boston, and Washington D.C..

At the first day of the Personal Democracy Forum on June 29th Mayor Bloomberg announced that the city’s 311 service would now have both a Skype and a Twitter account. So far it appears that the Twitter account is only used as a broadcast medium rather than also accepting 311 service requests in the way San Francisco’s 311 system recently made available.  Bloomberg also announced the creation of a public contest called NYC Big Apps. Big Apps is modeled after D.C.’s Apps for Democracy contest which means it’s an opportunity for developers to build technology around city data. Please suggest app ideas or data that the city should make available for this competition or submit a formal request with the city.

Washington D.C. has continued to improve it’s 311 service by releasing a draft for the second version of it’s Open 311 API. Last week also brought to a close the Apps for Democracy contest that was put on to develop apps for this API. An announcement of the final round winner will be made public the week of July 13th.

Boston has just announced the creation of a free iPhone app called Citizen Connect that will let iPhone users in Boston submit municipal complaints. Here we finally have a city responding the need for hand-held 311 service requests.

These are all encouraging developments which represent different possibilities for  improving 311 services.  The effort with Open311 continues with looking at these different approaches and specific API’s to see how a standard can be coalesced.