Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Improvements in 311 response: still has a ways to go

Years ago I "complained" in a blog entry that the way the city reported on citizen service "requests" through the 311 system was inadequate, because the report merely said the item was "closed" with no information on disposition.

With two requests over the last couple months I see one big improvement, but problems still exist.

Not only has the notice been reformatted to be more like a letter, they have added a new field "Case Closure Comment."

In May I reported an abandoned likely stolen vehicle on the next block.  The car was moved, but the service request "case comment" was gobbledygook.  Likely what it is saying is that someone else reported this as well, and they already or were in the process of responding.

They should say that. Still, compared to having no comment line reporting on what happened, this is a step forward.

Just yesterday, I reported a dead animal in the street.  The response "comment" was more direct, that the "item," in this case a possum, was picked up.  That's direct and easy to understand.  (Sadly, it's so direct because likely I'm the only person who reported it, and it wasn't even in front of my house.)

Interestingly at first the city employee couldn't find the possum and called us, since I included my phone number on the request.  I went out there, showed him where it had been--you could still see the mark on the street and tufts of animal hair--and then he noticed that it was moved off the street, likely by another animal who fed off it.

Last year, I was somewhat dismissive about the city's touting its use of a grant to fund a center on innovation in public services on "form redesign."

-- "Five new forms: is that all you've got?"

But it is important.

But I am not so content to take pride in helping to foment such change, when it isn't second order change (Change: Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Formation).

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At 1:12 PM, Anonymous thm said...

One thing that aggravates me about the online form--at least the mobile app--is the insistence on a street address in their database. When I reported an illegally dumped bag of yard waste on the sidewalk portion of the Taylor Street bridge, there was no way to indicate the bridge; a better design would let me just leave the pin drop location. I mentioned the bridge in the description, but they marked it cleared without picking it up, and it stayed on the bridge for at least two months. I tried emailing the contact listed on the form, but that didn't speed things at all.

At 5:15 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

I hadn't run into that problem, but I definitely see that it is problematic. E.g., what do you do on a trail?

2. And indirectly you make a very good point too, that there should be a specific contact point for follow up to ensure actual disposition, etc.


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