Walter Mencken 11 a.m., Nov. 27
The 411 on San Diego's 311 "pothole" app
The contract for the one-stop shot smartphone app has expired and the Mayor has not given any word whether he plans to renew it.
San Diego 311, the smartphone app that allows residents to report potholes and graffiti by snapping a picture on their smartphone camera, appears to have fallen into the cracks left by changing of the guard at City Hall.
The contract with Citysourced, the company that created and manages the app, expired one day after the election. And to date, city officials in the Mayor's office have not indicated whether or not they plan to renew the contract. So as residents continue to snap shots of cracked sidewalks and basketball-sized potholes, there has been no word if those reports are even looked at, let alone fixed.
The initiative of former councilmember and ex-mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio, the cell-phone application was meant to be a starting point to address the City's crumbling infrastructure.
San Diego 311 was launched in May 2011. It cost $9,900 for one year, a price well below the original contract price, and was paid for by DeMaio's council district.
But now 5,000 downloads and more than 3,000 reports later, progress renewing the contract with Citysourced has stalled. The new contract would cost the City around $35,000, which comes out to approximately $.02 cents per person.
Yet, despite the breakdown in negotiations, the program manager for the company says they continue to send the reports in. They just don't know what happens from there.
"In the days leading up to the election, I contacted every city council member including councilmember DeMaio, saying 'Hey, what do you want us to do'?" Said Brett Maxfield the director of sales and business development for Citysourced, who manages several similar programs for other large cities.
"I kept trying days after the election. We contacted Mayor Filner's office and they have basically said they would do something, most likely issue a [request for proposal] but that's all we've been told."
"We continue to get reports every hour and we continue to pass them on out of respect for our clients. It's literally impossible to remove the app off of people's phones," says Maxfield.
And now, the app's main proponent, Carl DeMaio is calling on his former opponent and other city officials to move forward with the mobile platform initiative.
"The City of San Diego needs to embrace the technology that our customers, the citizens, are using," said DeMaio in a December 19 phone interview.
"If the City drops plans to use mobile apps, it will fall behind in the e-government revolution. In the nineties, e-government meant having a website. Nobody would argue that the city should not have a website. Well, the same is true today for mobile platforms like Smart phone Apps. I’d like to see 311 app as a starting point to combine all of the City's constituent services like how to pay water bills, and eventually get two way communication about volunteerism in their neighborhoods or public safety issues."
"My hope is that the new administration won't worry where this idea came from, but rather how to implement good ideas that save taxpayers money while improving services to our citizens."
A spokesperson from Mayor Filner's office said that the City will respond to questions about the status of San Diego 311 in the coming days.
Update: Citysourced sent the following notification after this story posted:
*An earlier version of this story stated that DeMaio's office paid $35,000 for one year of service, however, DeMaio only paid $9,900 for the year, after he negotiated with Citysourced. *
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