Baltimore opens its 311 system with Open311

When Baltimore began its search for a mobile application that would expand its 311 services system to smart phones, one of the considerations was interoperability.

“We wanted to select a technology that didn’t require us to change our business processes,” said Baltimore CIO Rico Singleton.

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Baltimore extends 311 service with mobile app

The city settled on the Spot Reporters framework from Connected Bits LLC, which integrates with the city’s existing customer relationship management from Motorola. Just as importantly, both Motorola and Connected Bits support the Open311 application programming interface, which allows third parties to develop applications to work with the city’s non-emergency service systems.

Baltimore, a pioneer in the field that established the nation’s first municipal 311 service in 1996, deployed the Open311 API for the GeoReport v2 standard in September. It is one of 28 cities from Toronto, Ontario, to Darwin, Australia, to implement the API and make keys available for developers. Other major U.S. cities implementing the standard include San Francisco, Boston and Washington.

Vivek Kundra, then federal CIO, blogging in 2010 about the launch of the Open311 initiative, wrote that with applications developed to the interface, “I can use the same application to report a broken parking meter when I'm home in the District of Columbia or traveling to cities like Portland, Los Angeles, Boston, or San Francisco.”

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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