The Launch of Open311 in Chicago

This afternoon the Mayor’s Office released two new resources for the people of Chicago:

The Smart Chicago Collaborative helped write the application for Chicago to become a Code for America city focused on complying with the Open311 standard, and we have funded this project from the start.  John Tolva, Chicago CTO and Smart Chicago Advisory Committee member, has been deeply supportive of the project and has shepherded it through to completion. Chicago Chief Data Officer and Commissioner of the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) Brett Goldstein, along with Director Danielle DuMerer, has been instrumental in getting this project done, as were others at DoIT and people at Motorola Solutions and Connected Bits. Audrey Mathis, Director of 311 Services, has been great to work with as well.

None of this would be possible without Code for America, the ground-breaking organization founded and led by Jennifer Pahlka. The amount of work achieved under this grant is kind of stunning:

  • 311Labs: A space where your dreams of the possiblities of 311 data can become a reality!
  • The Daily Brief:  Explore and filter 311 service requests by neighborhood, service name, and status
  • Open311 Status: a site that shows if Open311 APIs are down or have performance issues, and provides Public APIs uptime, comprehensiveness and citizen utilization
  • Civiz: A polyglot Platform as a Service civic application
  • Civics Garden: Reflect, record—and be reminded of—your civic deeds and contributions
  • And all the normal code, design, documentation, and logo contributions you’d expect when you suddenly find yourself in front of smart Web people who can get things done

The Chicago Code for America fellows— Jesse Bounds, Angel KittiyachavalitBen Sheldon, and Rob Brackett deserve a ton of credit for drilling down into a set of tools that make sense for the particularities of Chicago while being broadly useful as reusable code for other municipalities. They moved the 311 movement forward in ways that will be felt for years to come. They are technically top-notch, excellent communicators, and real-deal project managers, all of them. They listened to our needs and were able understand the unique technology setup that lied beneath a simple desire to see the current status of a pending service request.

So get out there and track your favorite service request:

311 Service Tracker


Online system to track 311 calls
By Fran Spielman, City Hall Reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, September 14, 2012

The technology upgrade will make the process of calling 311 to get a pothole filled, a tree trimmed or a broken streetlight replaced like using FedEx to send a package, under the plan, first disclosed by the Chicago Sun-Times last spring.

Mayor Emanuel Launches New Online “Open311” System to Improve Government Accountability and Service Delivery
 Press release from Mayor’s Office of the City of Chicago, September 20, 2012

The Open311 technology was developed through a partnership between the City’s Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) and Code for America, and was funded in part by the Smart Chicago Collaborative.

Code for America, a non-profit loosely based on Teach for America, recruits the top talent from the technology industry to give a year of service to build innovative web applications for city governments.

Code for America selected the City of Chicago as one of only eight cities to be a part of its 2012 national fellowship program, thanks to Chicago’s demonstration of cutting-edge thinking and its willingness to invest in long-term change through the development of new web-based technology.

Mayor’s Office Video: Open 311 in Chicago

Here’s an information chart created by the Mayor’s Office:

New Open 311 Information Chart

City Reveals New And Upgraded 311 App
CBS Chicago, September 20, 2012 6:50 AM

“That’s what we’ve built – it’s called Service Tracker,” city Chief Technology Officer John Tolva said on the CBS 2 Morning News Thursday. “So whether you call in, or whether you e-mail, or use an app, you get a number just like a package, and you can track it all along the way, and you’ll get an e-mail saying it’s done.”

Chicago Launches 311 Service Tracker
WBEZ | 91.5, by Robin Amer, September 20, 2012

Chicago Chief Technology Officer John Tolva said the new service will help make city government more accountable and more transparent, something Mayor Rahm Emanuel promised upon taking office. “You need to be able to see where [a service request] is at every step along the way – not just whether it’s open or closed,” Tolva said. “Our residents and our businesses deserve to know that.”

City launches new 311 Web site, Mark Suppelsa,6:13 p.m. CDT, September 20, 2012

Chicago residents have a new way to request city services all with the click of a mouse. The city revealed its new open 311 website today which allows people to submit pictures of problems. And soon there will be an improved app.


Lastly: a =n incomplete list of news stories covering the work:

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