If you’ve been wanting to report that pothole on your street, but couldn’t remember how to do it, today’s your lucky day. Boston is unveiling its new BOS:311 app today, allowing citizens to report minor issues with a few quick taps on their smartphones.
“The idea behind it is to make reporting city issues more seamless for citizens, and making reporting available wherever is most convenient for many citizens, and we were seeing that was increasingly through their phones,’’ said Lauren Lockwood, Boston’s chief digital officer.
The app is a rebranded and revamped version of Citizen’s Connect, which allowed city residents to report non-emergency issues around Boston, such as potholes and graffiti.
“From Citizens Connect we have a current install base of over 60,000. With the rebrand we’re aiming to get more people using the app and increase the functionality,’’ Lockwood said.
The new app has added 10 new different kinds of requests, and arranged them in order of use, so you don’t have to scroll all the way through the menu to find the most common requests.
If you already had Citizens Connect, the BOS:311 is an automatic update. You can also call 311 anywhere within Boston’s city limits to verbally report any issue, if you’re from the stone age.
One of the most intriguing functions of the app: you can arrange disposal of a “dead animal.’’
“There isn’t really a nice way to put [dead animal removal] in the app. It is a request we see somewhat often – a bird’s hit a window, or roadkill. Sometimes unfortunately if pets get hit by cars they need removing, too,’’ Lockwood said.
Boston seems to be having some fun with its unveiling. The cover photo for the new BOS:311 Twitter page is a wink to Boston’s history, and Lockwood says we can expect more of the same on the way.
“This type of ad is one of several which will be featured across the city. They’re going to be on bus shelters, BigBelly trash cans, and some less cheeky ones on billboards too,’’ Lockwood says. “Our goal is to educate people on how to use the app or the phone line.’’
How did they come up with the fun complaints in the campaign? Lockwood says they’re all real.
“We’ve had several hilarious requests over the years so you’ll see we’re basing our marketing around them.’’
Lockwood also says the city is gearing up to handle the influx of requests they’re expecting.
“We don’t want to notify everybody of the change then not be able to deliver,’’ she says. “Our main requests services are on notice to be expecting more requests than normal and we have more people answering phones. One reason we’re pushing the app heavily is that it requires less manpower to process requests.’’
The new BOS:311 app is available for download on the App Store and the Google Play store now. You can also use the service by tweeting @BOS311 or calling 311 within Boston city limits.