In the race to see who’s going to take over the world – between Apple or Google, obviously – Steve Jobs may have just one-upped the competition, at least here in Philly.
Philadelphia is set to release a free 311 “app” for the iPhone that’ll let users log requests for city services and track them, Heard in City Hall reports.
Apparently this thing is going to come in “phases,” Allen Frank, Philly’s Division of Technology chief, told Philly.com. “The first phase is mostly logging requests and tracking them,” he said. “The next-generation release is where we do the rocket-science stuff. We want it so you can ask the app a question about the city and it comes back with an answer.”
Pretty snazzy. And here’s another thing. Turns out, 311 has been pretty useful to those Philadelphians who’ve put it to use. A March Pew study found that of the 15 percent of Philadelphians who’ve dialed 311 for nonemergency access to basic city information, 68 percent were satisfied with the information they received, in spite of the service's major budget cuts. At that, it has cost taxpayers less compared with other cities with similar toll-free city services ($2.20 per call compared with an average of $3.39 for the 15 cities Pew reviewed for their 311 report). Investing money and technology in something useful? Who woulda thunk?
It’s yet to be seen whether the iPhone application one-ups the competition even more. Google, if you want to stay in the totalitarian technology game, stop acting all flirty and bring on the Google Fiber.
A number of investigative and watchdog bodies actually operate inside city government. Each office has its limitations, however, leaving oversight on certain areas of government thin to nonexistent. Specifically, City Council manages to largely escape scrutiny.