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City Reveals New And Upgraded 311 App

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CHICAGO (CBS) — If you’re a Chicago resident, you can track your city service requests by a simple click of your smartphone touch screen.

The city’s new and upgraded 311 app is now available, and officials say it allows residents to track their service requests for everything from having a pothole filled to having graffiti eliminated much like UPS or FedEx allows customers to track their packages.”

“That’s what we’ve built – it’s called Service Tracker,” city Chief Technology Officer John Tolva said on the CBS 2 Morning News Thursday. “So whether you call in, or whether you e-mail, or use an app, you get a number just like a package, and you can track it all along the way, and you’ll get an e-mail saying it’s done.”

Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) created the first generation of the app, called Chicago Works, while he was running to replace the retiring Ald. Eugene Schulter two years ago. He says the goal is not only to make it easier to request city services, but also to put city operations in context.

The app, Pawar said, will “provide you context with why things happen and how things actually get done, so that we manage expectations, but also allow the public to see their tax dollars at work.”

The 311 app is set up so that other developers can build new applications on top of the existing framework. Pawar himself is responsible for the first of those applications – a pothole tracker.

Tolva said the app allows residents to “snap a photo of a pothole. So that’s good for you, and it’s good for the city too. We don’t have to send a crew out to see if it’s a sinkhole or a pothole. It just makes things more efficient.”

Anyone can propose and develop an application to add to the 311 app. Pawar said part of the goal is to “give you a seat at the table so you can innovate and help us drive some of the change we want to make.”

The city took the top 14 service requests to list as options in the app, including potholes, graffiti, and tree trim requests, among others.

The app is available now at cityofchicago.org/311.

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