Up the Block: An App for Greater Transparency in NYC’s 311 System

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New York City’s largest civic tech expo – BigApps Demo Day is happening this Sunday, at the ‘Made in NY Media Center in DUMBO. Now in its sixth year, the NYC BigApps challenge is the premier civic tech initiative of the City of New York and powered by more than 1300 municipal data sets offered through the NYC OpenData portal. Spanning over five months, the ‘BigApps’ competition challenges developers, designers, and entrepreneurs to create innovative technology to help solve pressing civic challenges our city faces- Affordable housing, zero waste, connected cities and community engagement.


Up The Block, powered by 311, an app envisioned and designed by writer and UX designer, Bhushan Mondkar is one of the fifty shortlisted projects that will be presented on Demo Day. The team, that also includes Untapped Cities founder Michelle Young, Augustin Pasquet, Jessica Faith, and Patrick Mattei, aims to re-imagine certain aspects of the 311 system, while building upon the success of the current NYC 311 app.

Since launching in 2003, 311 has become an integral part of the City and evolved to become the largest 311 systems in the nation. From complaints about Halloween to rat and poop infestations, the 311 system is swamped with a flood of reports from frustrated souls across the five boroughs! However, the system still remains largely unintuitive and lacks transparency.

Up The Block_NYC_BigApps_Untapped Cities1There were 34,522 complaints called in to 311 between September 8 and September 15, 2010. Here are the most common, plotted by time of day. Illustration: Pitch Interactive via Wired

Up the Block will let New Yorkers report AND (easily) track any non emergency, civic problems in their neighborhoods,” says Bhushan. “The app is also designed to promote active community engagement, by creating a platform for New Yorkers to easily communicate with the city agencies” he adds. The app asks, what if 311 calls could be geotagged and the data made publicly available, trackable, and create seamless connections the the appropriate agencies?

On Sunday, November 1st from 12 to 5pm, stop by the Made in NY Media Center to check out Up The Block, as well as other amazing ideas developed over the past four months by New York’s talented civic innovators tasked to solve NYC’s biggest challenges: affordable housing, zero waste, connected cities, and civic engagement. RSVP here.

 311, NYC BigApps

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