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Beyond Service Requests: NYC Takes Yelp Approach to New 311 App

New York City launched a new mobile 311 service request tool with a format that’s been compared to the restaurant and service review website Yelp.

Earlier this week, New York City Comptroller John Liu’s Office launched NYC 311+, a mobile civic engagement app that allows users to report traditional 311 service requests but also write reviews of city government services and facilities like subway stations, libraries and playgrounds, according to the official announcement.

“New Yorkers are a passionate, opinionated bunch, and ‘NYC 311+’ is a great way to connect people so they can work to improve their neighborhoods together,” said Liu, in a statement.

Reviews can be submitted anonymously or publicly by category with the option to submit a photo. Others can support or comment on the review, and like Yelp, the platform offers a five-star scale to rank a service. Both the free mobile app and the Web-based version were developed by PublicStuff.

The Comptroller’s Office launched the app to help increase transparency and be more responsive to the public by leveraging technology, said Connor Osetek, a spokesman for the Comptroller’s Office.

“We can’t be everywhere all the time, but New Yorkers actually are in the city,” Osetek said. “That’s a powerful tool that we’re excited to start harnessing.”

Unlike the city’s existing 311 app, which is only available in English, NYC311+ is available in 17 different languages, a feature that Osetek said will hopefully provide a more comprehensive representation of feedback from New York City’s population.

PublicStuff Founder Lily Liu, (no relation to John Liu), said the Yelp-like review feature on NYC’s new 311 app expands on what traditional 311 service request platforms offer. The review feature, Liu said, is an additional layer that’s been missing from 311 engagement in the past, since it’s challenging to provide a platform that allows users to submit a request and/or submit a comment or opinion on city services. Oftentimes, the public would rather only submit feedback.

“In many cases, people don’t have a service request to report. They’re not reporting a pothole or a missing street sign, but how do they get their feedback to the city on quality of their library services or the safety of their playgrounds for their kids?” she asked.


Winnipeg


Joseph Morrisroe, executive director of NYC 311, works with a staff member in the city's call center


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