Austin council approves contract for 311 mobile app


by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News and Photojournalist DAVID GARDNER

Bio | Email | Follow: @AshleyG_KVUE

Posted on February 14, 2013 at 6:59 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 14 at 7:01 PM

AUSTIN -- If you've ever wished there was an easier way to tell the City of Austin that something needs to be fixed, just hold on, soon there will be an app for that.

During its meeting Thursday, the Austin City Council voted to extend the contract with Motorola Solutions, Inc. for $854,191. That extension gives Motorola the go-ahead to upgrade the existing 311 phone system and build what the City refers to as a data bridge.

"It takes the information that our 311 operators use and works with and translates it to put it out there and make it available to the community. That's what the application developers can then use," explained City of Austin Chief Communications Director Doug Matthews.

Once the app is developed, when Austinites see something around town that needs fixing, such as pot holes or graffiti, all they would have to do is snap a picture using the 311 mobile app, sending a request to the call center.

The app will also allow users to track when the problem is fixed.

"I think it's a great idea actually. I mean, I've had to call 311 several times. It would be nice to just send something in," said Jayne Pena. 

"Just getting the information in a queue in a more efficient way, other than the telephone or email would be great," agreed Wilson Rowan. 

There are similar apps on the market already, but they are with a third party service that doesn't connect directly to the City. City staff says their app would be more efficient. 

The plan is to make the app work with major cell phone operating systems including iPhone and Android. Right now there isn't a timeline on when it will be ready to go. Matthews said it all depends on how long it takes to build the data bridge.