Open311 is based on the premise that we can treat problems in our cities the same way we treat problems in open source software: when you find a bug, file a bug report so that a patch can be made. Many municipal 311 systems already follow this model, but the analogy begins to break down when you consider that most cities use their own proprietary bug tracking system, that reports are rarely viewable to the public, and that reports usually have to be submitted by speaking to someone at a call center. Open311 attempts to resolve these issues by establishing a standardized non-proprietary model for 311 service request transactions. By utilizing a standard, cities can learn from one another, share toolsets and analysis, and can leverage the ingenuity of citizens and industry everywhere to build better technology to support their 311 services. As we’ve learned from the world wide web, the strongest platform for cultivating innovation is a flexible decentralized system that delivers interoperability based on open standards. It’s about time we bring this model to our civic infrastructure.
Phil currently helps drive various civic tech initiatives at The Open Planning Project. Previously he had served as a web developer at Western Washington University where he also received his BA in Design.
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