Open Data
2:23 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Interactive: Austin is Mapping New 3-1-1 Call Data Online Every Day

The City of Austin has started uploading information on 3-1-1 service calls – citizen requests for things like animal services, graffiti abatement, making noise complaints and more – in hopes software developers utilize the data for public apps.

In 2001, the City of Austin established 3-1-1 as a way for citizens to make non-emergency calls separate from police calls. According to austintexas.gov, Austin 3-1-1 receives over a million calls a year, which translates into some 200,000 departmental service requests each year. Citizens are also able to submit service requests online.

Beginning in January, 3-1-1 started posting data regarding all service requests to the City of Austin Data Portal. Below, a heat map of Austin 3-1-1 requests. Zoom in on an area to see individual 3-1-1 requests: 

According to City of Austin Business Systems Analyst Patty Mendoza, the move is part of an open government initiative. “In 2011 the City Council adopted a resolution to commit to open government framework and the principles of transparency efficiency and collaboration with the community,” Mendoza says. 

In the planning stages of the program, the city reviewed comparable systems used by Baltimore, Chicago and San Francisco.

“Austin 3-1-1 reviewed similar city open data web pages during development of this effort,” Mendoza says. “While each city has different models of displaying data, we chose the current set based on resources and capacity available in this initial effort.”

One goal in making this data available is for local developers to take the data and create potential applications to benefit the city and its citizens.

“We know there is a lot of interest in this data set, given the creativity we have seen exhibited by other developers that have had access to this data, we’re expecting to see some very cool apps,” Mendoza says. “The data captures the type of service request, the date, location and more, so there’s lots of potential for applications that could benefit graffiti abatement, storm drain issues, pothole repair or avoidance and more. Part of the value of releasing open data is allowing the community to develop what they feel is important.”

Looking forward, Mendoza hopes that there will be even more public data available on the data portal.

“Right now the focus is getting more municipal data on data.austintexas.gov,” Mendoza said. “We hope to have more high value data releases soon.”

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