Person reporting a pothole with a smartphone app

Fix 311 puts smart phones to work for the city

Cities and other municipalities have increasingly been moving to mobile-enabled non-emergency service (311) systems, which reduce their dependence on call centers, extend their outreach to an increasingly mobile citizenry, and organize and manage their service requests. 

Baltimore has added mobile apps that let citizens report problems and request services via smart phone, incorporating data such as photos and GPS coordinates into the existing 311 workflow.  And Minneapolis is using a free app from SeeClickFix that lets users report problems that otherwise would have to be called in to the city’s 311 call center or reported through a website.

Fix 311 is another back-end service that uses smart phones’ GPS and camera features so that citizens can locate, document and report problems such as public safety issues, maintenance requests, cable service complaints and even barking dogs to municipal governments.

Like the apps used in Baltimore and Minneapolis, Fix 311 is compliant with the Open 311 standard for sending location-based information to existing municipal non-emergency service systems. It allows development of third-party applications that can be used as an alternative to calling a city’s traditional 311 call center.

Fix 311 helps municipalities create custom application programming interfaces (APIs) that can be used with iPhone and Android apps or with mobile or standard websites, so that citizens can report problems from either a mobile device or a desktop computer. The backend flags each report as to its service request and jurisdiction and sends it on to the appropriate department. Fix 311 also has a Moving Mode that allows bicyclists and car passengers to report potholes while in motion.

Fix 311 integrates with any existing GIS system and customer relationship management program and is already being used in over 200 cities. For more information, visit the Fix 311 website.

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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