New York adds to services technology

New York City's services number is gaining some new capabilities in projects that are under way and will expand during the next few months, said Paul Cosgrave, the city government's chief information officer.


Soon, people will be able to send pictures and video files via the Internet to the 311 citizen services operation and 911 emergency services, he said. That capability is being tested now.


For example, it means that someone who wants to fight a parking ticket can send digital photos to show that a No Parking sign was missing or obscured, he said. Or someone requesting that the city fix a pothole can send photos of the pothole to show its exact location and size.


The city is also adding the ability to file public services requests online without people having to call 311, he said. And the city is enhancing the 311 service itself, tying it in to nonprofit groups and other resources.


New York has been working on the 311 service since 2002, Cosgrave said. The original intent was to give New Yorkers  a single, easy-to-remember number to call for any city government problem. The 311 system replaced hundreds of individual department numbers and gets an average of 40,000 calls a day, he said.


New York is also developing a public safety broadband service through a contract with Northrop Grumman. That system, which is about 70 percent deployed, allows police officers and firefighters to get access to mug shots, fingerprint files, building plans and other data in moments.


Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the driving force behind the efforts, Cosgrave said.

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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