New “People’s 311” Site Maps Street Hazards

311_4.JPG Carrie McLaren and Steve Lambert are working on a public service photo project called "People’s 311." They want New Yorkers to submit shots of things like potholes, bike lane hazards, dying trees and broken traffic signs.

People’s 311 is a "crowdsourcing" response to the Street Conditions Observation Unit (SCOUT) program, a new team of inspectors dispatched by the Mayor’s Office of Operations to drive every city street (in scooters) once per month and report problem conditions to 311. McLaren and Lambert think this is something citizens could help with. They eventually plan to map all photos for a more comprehensive picture of reported problems.

Check the Stay Free! Magazine Blog for details. And for more experiments in crowdsourcing, see Brian Lehrer’s SUV count from earlier this month, and, of course, Streetsblog’s favorite project, Uncivil Servants.

  • galvo

    i have been doing this with Hudson river greenway problems. i contact the agency responsible via the web and email and send them a link to the flickr photo of the hazard. they are usually responsive. i also report roadway steel plate problems via the dot website.

  • gecko


  • Larry Littlefield

    One problem. What if the government started priortizing problems identified by people’s 311? And what if those problems were all in neighborhoods with affluent, educated residents?

    I think that selective attention and enforcement is what the scout teams were designed to counteract.

    On the other hand, if the affluent and educated took the responsibility to do things like this, perhaps the scout teams could be concentrated in more voiceless neighborhoods to greater effect.

  • steve

    Excellent point, Larry. There is definitely a wide range of high- and low- priority problems on the site, and I don’t see how it could be any other way. But it does strike me that with this technology someone with a camera, internet access and some time can bring a lot of attention to bear on neighborhood that could easily get ignored in the process otherwise.

  • yeah, because the government has never prioritized improvements in affluent neighborhoods over poor ones before.


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