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Nearly everyone has a story about a futile attempt to get help from 311, whether it's about those screaming teenagers on your block or a pile of garbage that's mysteriously lingered for over a week. On Staten Island, a new app called BP Assist is aiming to circumvent the clunky process, DNAinfo reports, letting residents send complaints directly to the Borough President's office.
Users will be able to choose from categories including "buildings," "health concern/pest control," "mass transit," "road conditions," "sanitation/litter," "street light/sign/meter," and "water/sewer" to register complaints, and can even upload pictures of the problem if applicable. The app, currently available for iOS and Android, will automatically select users' location, and send status updates for the resolution of the problem. The app will also feature contact information for city agencies, and notify users with alerts for things like school closures.
"311 is a complaint that you send to a system, but it’s like putting a message into a bottle," Staten Island Borough President James Oddo tells DNAinfo. "Here we have human beings that are vibrant and follow up and fight."
It's pretty hard to imagine a system like this working in larger boroughs—after all, Staten Island has a population of around 472,000, as compared to Brooklyn's 2.5 million—but if we could fire off a picture of that pothole or broken street light and least feel like a city agency is paying attention, well, that'd be pretty satisfying.