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NYC Looks to Reinvent 311 for Mobile with New Challenge

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, November 26 2013

311 requests by district (

New York City is partnering with Code for America and Stack Exchange to invite civic technologists and other hackers to "reinvent 311" with a focus on new and existing mobile tools. "From parking and recycling rules to birth certificates, all of 311's content is available through an API (application programming interface) - but it's not yet widely available in the mobile space," according to the page of the Reinvent 311: Mobile Content Challenge.

The challenge is running from Tuesday, November 26 to January 15.

After registration, the submission period ends January 6, after which up to 15 prototypes will be selected to participate in demos.

The judges will be Philip Ashlock, co-founder of Open311, Catherine Coy, director of content management at NYC 311, Noel Hidalgo, executive director of NYC's Code for America brigade Beta NYC, Michal Pasternak, CEO of HUGE, the company that worked on the redesign of the site and Joel Spolsky, CEO of Stack Exchange.

The criteria will include the prototype's mobile experience, creativity, visual design, functionality and integration. On the latter two points, the focus will be on how well the demo caters "to a large consumer market, representative of the diverse population of New York City" and is intuitive to use, providing a variety of information and in a way that is accessible to all mobile users, and how well the 311 content API integrates into existing mobile technologies, tools, applications and websites.

The NYC 311 customer service team held an internal hackathon to help create a list of potential application ideas, according to the website. One is a My Neighborhood Application that would help residents locate local businesses, restaurants, places of worship, post offices, schools and parks. Another is an application focused on city rules that would help users learn and find about trash rules and schedules, permit inquiries, benefit programs and street cleaning.

New York City already offers a 311 app that lets users submit reports for issues like noise, street lights, lost property in taxis and abandoned vehicles.