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The Challenge


How might we improve the way citizens and governments interact? Read the challenge brief



We will transform the way cities listen to their residents by developing a tool that allows us to act on city service issues identified via social media--eliminating the need to visit City Hall, call 311, or download special applications.

Individuals rely on government services to ensure cities are clean and safe, but too often residents must navigate a bureaucratic maze to access key services such as pothole repairs, tree trimming, and graffiti removal. We propose to build a system that eliminates the need to visit city hall or call city departments by automatically scanning social media to identify local issues and deploying services in response. We will use this technology to ensure cities are safe and efficient while building a relationship with the resident or visitor.


Cities currently rely on individuals to directly contact city agencies to provide feedback or raise awareness of an issue. For over a decade, individuals have been able to use the telephone to contact government services through a single number. Eventually, systems were implemented to receive information over the internet and via text messages and email.  Recently, municipalities have built open application programming interfaces (APIs) to allow third-party applications to interface with government platforms. As a result, a handful of niche applications arose to allow users to use open APIs.  However, these applications are limited and require residents and visitors to use a specialized app to provide feedback, instead the communication methods that they use daily to interact with friends and colleagues, such as Twitter.


A platform is needed to parse text from social media to structured input. The platform will read text, use attached media, and location information to solicit feedback, generate service tickets, and dispatch city services.

Whether individuals have complaints, are concerned about the quality of food or buildings, or need assistance from the city, they will be able to interface with city government services.  The platform will determine the type of request or feedback and route it to the appropriate agency.

Proof of Concept

We propose to provide a proof of concept for this platform by allowing users to submit 311 tickets using Twitter. The platform will be able to translate a tweet to a service request using the Open311 API. Users can use a dedicated hash tag to flag tweets that should be input into the 311 system.  The platform will use the tweet’s text, attached media, and GPS location to identify the issue and dispatch city services.

What is your project? [1 sentence max]

Automatically connect residents who identify local issues using social media platforms with government services.

Where are you located?

Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

How did you hear about the contest?

  1. OpenGov group or listserve
Brett's profile photo
entry submitted by: Brett Goldstein
March 18, 2013, 04:17PM
64 views 1 comment 3 applause Applaud


Join the conversation and post a comment.

March 27, 2013, 02:49PM
Some good work has already been done in this direction in Chicago. More financial support will help it move forward quickly and allow the city to harness some of Chicago's open data/big data brainpower.


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