Sunday, November 07, 2004

The Networked City

Wired has an article by Steven Johnson on how NY City has added geo-referencing to its 311 service.

Selected quote:

[T]he government learns as much as the callers do. That's the radical idea at the heart of the service: Every question or problem carries its own kind of data. Menchini's system tracks all that information; just as the heralded CompStat system mapped problem crime areas with new precision, 311 automatically records the location of each incoming service request in a huge database that feeds info throughout New York City's government. Think of 311 as a kind of massively distributed extension of the city's perceptual systems, harnessing millions of ordinary eyes on the street to detect emerging problems or report unmet needs - like those worries about unrefrigerated insulin. (Bloomberg himself is notorious for calling in to report potholes.)

Already, 311 data is changing the government's priorities. In the first year of operation, noise was the number one complaint; the Bloomberg administration subsequently launched a major quality-of-life initiative combating city noise. Today, geomapping software displays streets with chronic pothole troubles and blocks battling graffiti - all integrated into custom dashboards on city officials' laptops. (emphasis added)


That's a nifty idea. Although I still have absolutely no desire to ever come within 100 miles of New York City.

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