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City is handling surging number of complaints, whether by phone, web, or app

Stephanie Prashard answered the phone at the  constituent service hot line at City Hall in Boston.
Stephanie Prashard answered the phone at the constituent service hot line at City Hall in Boston. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

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From all corners of the city, the reports rush in, an endless catalog of civic concerns. Graffiti on a utility box in Dorchester. A traffic light out in West Roxbury. An abandoned car in Roslindale with an alarm that won’t shut off.

Most alerts come with a picture of the problem, and a short message of varying urgency and tone. Some, such as “concrete chunk remove” from Newbury Street, are helpfully direct. Others express dwindling patience, like the plaintive Beacon Hill cry to “Please enforce trash rules!” or deadpan humor, like the petitioner for sidewalk repair who drolly remarked “fell in this hole.”

No matter the approach, or the mode of communication, the number of complaints through the city’s program has surged in recent years, rising 40 percent since 2010 to more than 144,000.

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