Detroit Revitalizes City with 311 App

Jason Shueh at Government Technology: “In the wake of the Detroit bankruptcy, blight sieged parts of the city as its populous exited. The fallouts were typical. There was a run of vandalism, thefts, arson and graffiti. Hard times pushed throngs of looters into scores of homes to scavenge for anything that wasn’t bolted down — and often, even for the things that were…. For solutions, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and DWSD’s CIO Dan Rainey partnered with SeeClickFix. The company, based in New Haven, Conn., is known for its mobile platform that’s embedded itself as a conduit between city service departments and citizen non-emergency — or 311 — requests. Duggan saw the platform as an opportune answer to address more than a single issue. Instead, the mayor asked how the app could be integrated throughout the city. Potholes, downed trees, graffiti, missing signage, streetlight outages — the mayor wanted a bundled solution to handle an array of common challenges.

Improve Detroit was his answer. The city app, officially available since April, allows citizens to report problems using photos, location data and by request type. Notifications on progress follow and residents can even pay utility bills through the app. For departments, it’s ingrained into work orders and workflows, while analytics provide data for planning, and filters permit a deep-dive analysis….

improve detroit app

Detroit now sits among many metropolitan cities pioneering such 311 apps. San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Chicago are just a few of them. And there are a host of equally adroit tech providers supplying and supporting the apps — companies like Salesforce, CitySourced, PublicStuff, Fix 311 and others. Some cities have even developed their own apps through their internal IT departments.

What’s unique in Detroit is the city’s ambition to leverage a 311 app against major blight while the city works to demolish more than 20,000 abandoned homes — susceptible to fire, flooding, pest infestations and criminal activity. Beyond this, Lingholm said the initiative doubles as a tool to rejuvenate public trust. Data from the app is fed to the city’s new open data portal, and departments have set goals to ensure responsiveness….(More)