Most weekday mornings I like to go for a walk along Jasper Avenue (east side) or down a set of stairs to Rowland Road and on to the trails in Riverdale or Dawson Park.
Seeing the litter pile up along the wooden staircase to Rowland Road or beside every bench that was meant to be a viewpoint along Jasper Avenue just irks me. Seeing the increasing garbage in the jewel of Edmonton, the river valley, as I look down from avenue angers me.
Recently I learned about the 311 app which was immediately downloaded to my phone. This app is great. I just click on “New Request” and take a picture of the offending waste. The app finds my coordinates and pops them into the report. After providing a bit of information about what is being reported, one click submits the “New Request” to the City of Edmonton. It’s brilliant because the reports have to be followed up by Bylaw Officers and I can track the status of my submissions.
It felt great to see Bylaw Officers with their truck loading the abandoned grocery carts and other items discarded in the parkland along Jasper Avenue. (Yes there is parkland along Jasper Avenue). One thing of note is that in my follow up under “My Requests”, every report with the word camp had a note in the follow up to contact 311.
It turns out I didn’t put enough detail in my report about camps. For example, I was asked whether or not there were people living in the tent(s) or was it abandoned and were there needles. I explained that I wasn’t going to get close enough to find out about the needles but I can understand why they would want to try to get that information. They want to try to keep the Bylaw Officer as safe as possible and if there are people, they may need a peace officer to go with them.
The 311 app is appealing to me because every report has to be dealt with upon receipt. As importantly, every report becomes part of neighbourhood statistics and this can impact the level of resources dedicated to a neighbourhood.
The City of Edmonton has an Open Data Strategy in which they state “Analytic tools will be enhanced to encourage the use of the data to improve decision making as well as for a variety of other purposes.”
Everything counts and the 311 app makes it easy for your concerns to be counted. It’s available for Apple and Google phones.