Philly phone app lets residents report problems to 311

Posted: September 14, 2012

A new mobile app allows Philadelphia residents to send complaints about potholes, graffiti, and other issues - complete with photographs and location - directly into the city's maintenance work flow.

The Philly311 app, released by the Mayor's Office Thursday, also tracks service requests and notifies the user when the issue is resolved. It is available on iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry.

Councilman Bobby Henon released a similar program, the CityHall App for iPhone, in April. He said more than 500 people had downloaded it so far.

"Many, many of the people who downloaded my app use it on a regular basis," Henon said. But their complaints are routed to a representative in the councilman's office who then enters them into the city system.

Henon's office is "waiting for the [Nutter] administration to provide the API source code" so that his app can skip the middleman and link to the city work flow.

While urging every resident to download Philly311, Henon also criticized the mayor for being late to join the municipal-app game.

On its first day, Philly311 took in more than 50 complaints - dead tree on Miller Street; sewer gases on Lee Street; streetlight out on Tulip Street. Four green bars illustrate each submission's status: opened, acknowledged, in progress, and closed.

In several of the "closed" cases, city workers couldn't find the specified problems: "The Streets Dept inspected the location and did not see the item or issue." In others, the user was referred to another agency: "Call 911 to file a police report." "Please contact the Rat Complaint Line: 215-685-9000."

Among the other features of Philly311 are a 911 button and a list of top city officials and direct links to their phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and social-media accounts.

Contact Jessica Parks at 213-854-4851 or

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