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New York City Releases 311 Map, Says The Raw Data's On the Way

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, February 16 2011

New York City on Wednesday released a new app that allows visitors to search complaints made to the city's 311 service by date, type, and neighborhood.

The city also plans to start releasing raw complaint data from 311 on the city's data repository, the NYC DataMine, later this year, according to a city spokesman.

[Update: There are 311 sets up already, but some of them haven't been updated since November 2010. The city is proposing to roll out a more inclusive and more frequently updated set of data, but more specifics are not available.

Second update: Responding a comment from OpenPlans' Philip Ashlock, who says that what 311 data needs is API access, a spokesman for the city's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications says that his agency, at least, feels the same way.

"I can't speak for the whole city," the spokesman, Nicholas Sbordone, wrote to me in an email. "From DoITT’s perspective we want to move in a direction of API access for the [map] application and the DataMine overall, but I don’t have more specifics at the moment."]

The application, built using the city's public city-wide GIS, CityMap, generates maps that show complaints by complaint type as dots on a map of the city. Clicking on an individual location shows more information about each complaint. Some types of data display as heat maps instead of dot maps by default, but Sbordone says the specifics for those reports — like reports of homeless encampments — appear when a user searches by address instead.

And some types of calls, like requests for literature, are not included in the map at all.

Some critics and observers have been asking for years for the city to open up its 311 data beyond the way it previously offered the information, compiled annually and broken down by community board in the Mayor's Management Report.

At a press conference today, Deputy Mayor Stephen P. Goldsmith acknowledged that this addition to the city's open data efforts was a nod to transparency advocates:

“Some of this will not be entirely exciting for those of us whose job it is to make sure that the holes in the street are filled and the trash is picked up because it’ll provide visibility to what we are or not doing,” Mr. Goldsmith said. “And some of you will enjoy that visibility.”