Mobile App Driving Citizen Engagement in Philly

Open data also opens up lines of communication.

As of 2012, 311 mobile apps are nothing new. Cities across America are leveraging the cameras and the GPS functionality found on most smartphones so that citizens can easily report graffiti, potholes, downed traffic lights and illegal dumping. Now that many cities have released 311 apps, it is interesting to watch how residents engage with their cities, and vice versa.

The city of Philadelphia saw more than 2,500 downloads of their app in the first two weeks following its September release, according to Technically Philly. Now, three months after the app’s launch, more than 3,800 service tickets have been marked “resolved.”

PublicStuff, who built the app for Philadelphia, posts all requests on their website so that residents can see issues and track their status. Citizens can also submit issue-resolution requests via the website. Data like this has never been readily available before, and residents are responding enthusiastically, as evidenced by the reviews in the Apple App Store:

Philly311 Review

Philly311 Review

For its part, Philadelphia is not only responding to the tickets but also sharing the results:

The Philly311 app is part of Mayor Nutters plan to make the City of Philadelphia more accessible to everyone. Using Philly311, citizens can report public service requests and even access other important information related to City Hall, such as access to staff bios, city events, news, FAQs and more. Having a direct link to city services is powerful – and effective! Within the first few days of its launch, over 2,000 people downloaded Philly311. What’s even more impressive is that over 1,300 service requests were submitted and over 1,200 comments were exchanged between citizens and city staff members - proving this kind of social connectivity is not only desired, but contagious.

Another reason why this app is so popular is that the City of Philadelphia is fulfilling their promise to respond to citizen needs. When service requests are reported, not only is the city responding by providing comments and status updates, they're actually addressing the concern.

Read How Philadelphia is Changing Community Engagement on GovLoop.

Here, courtesy of GovLoop, are a few examples of the city/citizen interaction that has occurred because of this app:

Philly311 Before and After

<p>Image courtesy of Matt Banks / <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p>
Dec 17 2012