Problems for Councilman's New App

By Gene Cubbison
|  Friday, May 20, 2011  |  Updated 9:17 PM PDT
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Problems for Councilman's New App

NBCSanDiego

On Thursday May 19, San Diego city Councilman Carl DeMaio launched a new smart app, but users are running into some early problems.

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Problems for Councilman's New App

A new app meant to report infrastructure issues throughout the city is having some trouble of its own.
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A smart-phone application for San Diegans to report 'infrastructure' problems to city officials has been having some early start-up issues that may take awhile to resolve.

The undertaking also has raised some hackles throughout City Hall, and accusations that it's a political campaign tool for Councilman Carl DeMaio, who launched the San Diego 311 system Thursday

Since DeMaio unveiled and activated his , users have reported a number of glitches and phone-app crashes that need working out and working around.

It seems the system, which is on a one-year 'pilot' contract, isn't seamlessly interfacing with the city's, as was hoped.

"This application... will allow citizens to access their main city services at the convenience of their fingertips," De Maio said at his rollout of the 311 phone app, which he bankrolled with nearly $10,000 from his 5th District office budget.

It's gotten over a thousand downloads, with more than 100 reports already filed by way of the technology.

The app transmits GPS coordinates for potholes, broken sidewalks, graffiti, abandoned vehicles, dead animals -- you name it.

But the city's been hearing from users who said it failed them, and departments that hadn't been receiving the reports, because the system isn't integrating with theirs.

So for now, DeMaio's office is playing middleman between its service provider and the city's.

"Right now it basically requires us to have an intern who can copy and paste the reports as they come in… which is a very manageable workflow." explained Ryan Clumpner, DeMaio's 5th District outreach director.

"Ideally," said Clumpner, "We want that to be completely without human interaction, other than we can look and see the different status of the reports. That should be done by July."

DeMaio projected substantial savings as the number of reports are filed via the phone-app. His charts showed hourly response costs ranging as low as 45 cents $1.85 versus $9 for a walk-in complaint, with traditional phone-calls in between.

City officials said they would work with DeMaio's staff and software provider to iron out the interface issues, and to refine the methodology so that the reports are properly reviewed and routed to the appropriate departments for response.

"This is not for everybody; not everybody has the smart phone," Clumpner said. "The purpose is that the people who do want to use it have the ability to use it. And form our perspective, the more people who do that, the more efficiently we can deal with these problems."

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