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Keeping tabs on everything from potholes to traffic lights

Last week, the city of Minneapolis introduced a mobile app for reporting non-emergency issues.

The free Minneapolis 311 app, which is available on both iPhone and Android platforms, supplements a city hotline. People can dial 311 to call attention to potholes, graffiti, broken streetlights, and so forth. (This can also be done on the city's website.)

Right now the app offers 10 different types of service requests that people can submit. It'll be expanded in the future depending on the demand, according to city information.

Thanks to GPS technology, the app can pick up the location of a certain request, according to Don Stickney, director of Minneapolis 311.

Further, service requests, which can be made even during 311’s off-hours, are trackable. Photos can be attached as well.

The app is a response to local and national trends. Many cities across the country have rolled out various types of apps in recent years. “The thing that we’ve seen is the utilization of smartphones,” Stickney says, adding that more and more visitors to the city’s website are using the devices.

The city is always working on increasing access, and this is another way to do so, he says.

SeeClickFix, a website that enables people to report neighborhood-level problems, developed the app, while Kana Software Inc. is “providing the technological framework to route the service requests” to the right city departments, according to city materials.

In a prepared statement about the app, City Council member Gary Schiff, who chairs the city’s Information Services Policy Steering Group, says that the app also helps in lean times. 

“While calls to 311 can take minutes and cost dollars, reporting the same thing with our new app takes seconds and only costs the city a few cents,” he says.

Source: Don Stickney, director of Minneapolis 311
Writer: Anna Pratt

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