Code for America : Starting The Open311 Center

September 9, 2011: Code for America is a non-profit organization that recruits civic-conscious tech talents to work with local government and council bodies in developing web-based applications that can be used across America to make cities more receptive and efficient.

Open311 Center is a Code for America initiative that endeavors to provide an open means of communication for common, non-emergency matters in public spaces, such as broken street lamps and uncollected garbage. The project aims to address civic challenges and raise civic participation by creating innovative web-based solutions that are reusable and shareable, and which can work seamlessly with other 311 systems across America.

Open311 Projects at Code for America brought together CfA intern Ashish Mittal and Open Dynamics CEO Michael Yap over the summer as the former developed a lightweight 311 back-end for small cities, using Joget Workflow.

"We have built the application using Joget, a great open-source workflow engine for automating and monitoring processes, along with great assistance from Joget’s CEO, Michael Yap, and the Joget community, " wrote Ashish (Ashish’s CFA Summer: Starting the Open311 Center, http://codeforamerica.org/2011/09/09/ashishs-cfa-summer-starting-the-open311-center/).

The application for handling 311 service requests enables a city’s 311response coordinator to notify the relevant agents/contractors based on data collected by the application from completed forms. The workflow administrator may add data apart from managing them, and the application is configured to allow for different processing options based on the role of the workflow participants.

Ashish is optimistic and confident about the application and asserts, "Eventually, we aim to install the application as a part of Open311 centers established in various cities and enable a direct and a more efficient process of taking in and dealing with 311 service requests. It’s still in early beta, and we’re excited to keep working on it."

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