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Ever since The Daily Gripe launched last year, we have been about all things potholes, graffiti, traffic signal issues and just about anything else reported to us directly and through partner site SeeClickFix. The District government is now joining our ranks and providing you with a more direct channel to getting your issues addressed.
We chatted with interim Director Rob Mancini and Director of Research and Development Marc Irlandez — both of the District Office of the Chief Technology Officer — this afternoon about the recently announced integration. It’s helped to “remove some of the guess work” out of addressing reported issues, Mancini said.
Now, instead of solely relying on operators fielding phoned-in requests to the city’s 311 line, residents and visitors can send non-emergency reports to 311 through SeeClickFix’s free mobile and web platform that allows them to pinpoint locations and upload photos and videos.
“A big thing is potholes. On the government side of things, when we got a complaint we really didn’t know exactly where to look and how to find the potholes,” Irlandez said. “This is really a way of crowd-sourcing to find and fill them.”
Previously 311 would receive an e-mail in a large file from issues reported on SeeClickFix and the data would be entered into the system. Efficiency is now optimized because the report goes directly into the system, and more specifically directly to the relevant agency.
“We wanted to figure out if there’s a way to take some of that load off of the hourly paid operators so that we would have a lot more time and better manage the staff,” Irlandez said.
Once a report is submitted, users can track the issue, see feedback from other users, which “reduces call backs asking about the status” of the grievance, Mancini said.
There have been instances when issues have been reported and closed out by DC 311, but the issue hasn’t been fixed, which can confuse users.
“I now have to ask, 1.) why was this issue first closed with no response?, then 2.) why there is a second response with a service request ID # without any way to review a service request ID on this site?” David wrote.
“If there is another website to review these service requests, doesn't that make this site irrelevant? There have been other DC.GOV service requests opened and closed (if that is the site this service request does indeed belong to), then how does opening "another' service request help make this matter more visible to someone in the DC Government?”
Irlandez said there hasn’t been any branding yet to distinguish valid DC 311 users verses anyone who can create a profile calling themselves 311 and closing requests out.
“Either someone took the issue and closed it or someone took a call on it and they closed it because it had already been reported,” Irlandez said.
Right now the requests are accessible by workers who fix the actual issue or the operators who report them.
The actual integration took place late last year in December, when they switched from beta to real production.
“We’ve been getting requests even before we announced it,” Mancini said. “It helped us get some test data. We’re continuing to make improvements.”
The District and San Francisco are two of the first city governments to integrate their 311 system with SeeClickFix and employ the open source data.
So as for the real question: will 311 address every request that comes through?
“Absolutely,” Irlandez said.
In the meantime, The Daily Gripe is here to help you follow up on the follow up of your reported requests.