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Service Request Categories
Region : North America
National GDP Per Capita (USD) : 62,517 (IMF, 2018)
City Population: 3,980,000
Year Implemented : 2014
National Gini Index : 41.5 (World Bank, 2016)
Tags : GOVERNANCE MOBILITY CITIZEN PARTICIPATION
Technologies Utilized : central call centers, mobile application technology, open data, real time technology, open-source platforms tracking key metrics, cloud-based
Funding Source :
Project Cost : N/A
Project Savings : N/A
Planned Project Duration : N/A
KPIs : Number of requests analysed, number of views, data access, efficiency
Project Context and Overview
As part of an effort to improve service to Los Angeles residents, the city created the MyLA311 system, a city service in which citizens can initiate a service request using a web portal, email, smartphone app, or phone call to report nuisances ranging from potholes, illegal dumping, broken trash bins, to overgrown trees and sofas left on the sidewalk. The city has always taken cared of these problems, but MyLA311 uses technology to give citizens a number of quick, convenient ways to ask for cleanup services. Citizens will become empowered to make their neighborhoods and public spaces cleaner and can better monitor how their city operates in terms of waste-processing efficiency.
Overcoming data system silos is a vital step in achieving data-driven governance — a top priority for Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City of Los Angeles, CA. Rooted in older systems that lack interoperability, data silos significantly slow down operations by causing miscommunication and duplication. The City of Los Angeles’s veteran 311 service request systems, which connect requests for city services to the appropriate departments, clearly demonstrate the challenges that result from such silos. The service request systems in each department were designed with the department’s needs in mind, rather than cross-departmental service delivery operations.
The new system MyLA311, which combines four key service management systems into one integrated whole, links Angelenos with the services and information they need to enjoy their city, beautify their community, and stay connected with their local government. Citizens get quicker responses, and Los Angeles improves quality of life through more efficient waste-removal operations.
The ‘Submit Service Request’ feature allows users to quickly and easily request the City’s most popular services, including graffiti removal, pothole repair, and bulky-item pickup. MyLA311 also allows citizens to pay their Los Angeles Water and Power Billright from a mobile device.
Project Planning and Implementation
Los Angeles uses cloud-based technologies to include mobility, mapping, tracking, and dashboarding capabilities—collectively called SANSTAR—to streamline service request processing and monitor field crews’ progress.
The past four systems in the old 311 service request systems were custom built and designed before APIs and system interoperability were required features, leading to completely independent systems that were unable to exchange information. As the city adapted to new technological trends — central call centers (311), mobile apps, and open data, the legacy systems’ antiquated architecture endured — becoming the primary obstruction to innovation.
Recognizing the essential role that the 311 service center plays in improving livability, Los Angeles modernized its 311 system, MyLA311, by consolidating four key service management systems into one integrated whole in 2014. For the first time, residents, civic hackers, and city departments can access all requests and status updates in one place. This is no small feat, as the process included an extensive overhaul that required cross-departmental cooperation and sophisticated engineering to complete.
The Los Angeles Mayor’s Office and the Information Technology Agency (ITA) led the centralization effort and convened a steering committee comprised of LA Sanitation, the Bureau of Street Services, the Bureau of Street Lighting, the Board of Public Works, the Chief Administrative Officer, and council representatives. The Mayor’s Office for Budget and Innovation led the effort with the goal of increasing efficiency by addressing the technical hurdles that slowed service delivery. The project centered on integrating the departments’ disparate systems into one central repository and simultaneously creating tools to increase accessibility for back-end users. The new system enables real-time field-level data management that allows tickets to be updated and closed in the field. This process is not only more efficient for the city, but it also opens up data that was previously locked up in legacy systems. Having a single repository of record for service requests facilitated the sharing of data with other systems such as the Open Data Portal.
The Mayor’s Data Team has developed a real-time dashboard within the Mayor’s Dashboard that is open to the public and city officials. The dashboards can quickly pull relevant metrics on wait times, bulky item pickups, and other service request data to make important decisions related to the city’s customer service delivery. All of these dashboards use open-source platforms tracking key metrics and outcomes from the City of Los Angeles.
This new centralized system illustrates how technological improvements to the most integral city systems can have an immediate impact on operations and transparency. The central system improves data access, increases efficiency, and ensures a uniform tracking methodology across all departments for 51 service request categories.
By connecting legacy systems into one repository, Mayor Garcetti can track service delivery across departments and his team can quickly analyze how well the city is doing in delivering quality customer service to every resident in Los Angeles. With the valuable data provided by the real-time dashboard, the Mayor can make well-informed decisions about resource allocation and customer care.
With everything in the cloud and with all devices having cellular connections, the government now saves a great deal of time. It is faster to sync devices, define routes, and get drivers out into the field. And that enables the government to serve the public better. The government has always been good at meeting internally defined deadlines for waste pickup, but the new system helps do it much more efficiently. They need fewer overtime hours, and the public always likes to see the city work better with fewer dollars.
Supervisors are now able to see on the system’s dashboard when a ticket gets closed and how efficiently their crews are collecting the load. They can also plan ahead to give a driver needed information and readjust the schedules or routes to maximize pickups. Supervisors can find answers quickly. They can discover if the job was completed or, if not, explain why the collection wasn’t possible based on comments in the dashboard from the field crew.
Open data users can analyze up-to-date 311 requests directly from the Los Angeles Open Data Portal. MyLA311 filtered views have quickly become the most desired datasets on the portal, with nearly 1,700 views. Civic hackers and data scientists use the data to map requests across the city and run analytics on trends in requests.
Recommendations for Transfer
As LA is renowned for its citizen inclusive policies, MyLA311 takes it further by not only serving the needs of the citizens, but utilizing the data obtained from MyLA311 to improve other public services. Numerous cities from around the world are realizing that inclusive policies not only help make the city more livable and sustainable, they also give a channel for the citizens to voice their concerns and thus make everyone happier.
In terms of implementation in other cities, WeGO has developed its own in-house solution, called the Civic Participation System that serves a similar purpose, albeit in a more bare bones and opensource platform for seamless transfer and dissemination to its members. As MyLA311 incorporates numerous components, it may not be easily transferable to other, especially smaller cities.
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