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People report more than 450 problems to 311GIS, street lights top request

SALISBURY — The city’s experiment with a website and mobile phone app that allow residents to report problems like potholes and dead animals is going well, a city official said.
Called 311GIS, the service is designed to let residents quickly request action on non-emergency problems by entering an address, clicking on a map or allowing the app to configure the location. The city is test driving the service for free until June, when City Council will decide whether to subscribe.
Between August 2013 and last month, 458 items have been reported to 311GIS, according to the city’s GIS coordinator Kathryn Clifton. She said 311GIS has 190 registered users, including 146 residents and 44 city staff members.
The top 10 reported items include:
10. Animal carcass in the road (nine reports)
9. Broken or uneven sidewalk (10)
8. Pick up bulky items (12)
7. Trash not picked up (12)
6. Illegal dumping (14)
5. Overgrown grass (14)
4. Large pile of limbs (19)
3. Abandoned housing/bad housing (22)
2. Pothole (29)
1. Street light out, damaged or flickering (225)
October, November and February were the biggest months for 311GIS requests, with more than 75 reports each. December had the fewest requests with 35.
Because the engineering department deals with street lights, most requests have been funneled to them. Other city departments handling requests include customer service, code enforcement, infrastructure services, parks and recreation, sanitation, streets and water-sewer maintenance.
When considered by neighborhood, most requests came from downtown with 37. Other hot spots included Fulton Heights with 20, Spanish Arms with 17, West Square with 15, Park Avenue with 26, North Main with 13, City Park with 12 and West Franklin with 11.
Clifton said 311GIS has been an excellent tool to coordinate the efforts of multiple city departments in responding to requests.
To register to use the free service, go to www.311GIS.com or download the app to a smart phone.
Users report a problem based on location and then can see the city’s response and track the status of their report. The service shows the status of the correction and includes a comment — sometimes several — from a city employee. The person who reported the problem can follow the progress of their requests and ask follow-up questions, as well as add photos.
Councilman Pete Kennedy has voiced his support for 311GIS and said he hopes the city will fund a subscription for the coming fiscal year, which starts July 1. Kennedy suggested using 311GIS to report people who blow cut grass into the street, which violates city code.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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