ABOVE PHOTO: Example of a page from Philly 311 app.
Mobile app is part of the Philly311 app, City encourages building on L&I app’s source code
The City of Philadelphia has announced the Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) mobile app, a new civic engagement tool that is part of the existing Philly311 app. Now residents can both report issues and access L&I property records such as permits, licenses, violations, and appeals on their smartphones. The City is also releasing the app’s underlying source code as part of an open source project in order to encourage others to build on it. The new app is the latest way L&I is striving to be a more transparent, accountable, and customer friendly agency.
“We at L&I know that by partnering with community members in identifying and solving neighborhood problems, we can all make Philadelphia an even better place to live and work. We’re excited to leverage Philly311’s popular mobile app to offer users on the go the ability to access information about what L&I is doing in their neighborhood.” said L&I Commissioner Carlton Williams.
To use the L&I app, download the Philly311 Mobile App in the iPhone, Android, or BlackBerry app store. For the first time, the source code for the app is being released as an open source project on the popular software repository GitHub (https://github.com/cityofphiladelphia/li). Philadelphia-area developers are encouraged to “fork” the source code for their own use or to suggest improvements that can then be incorporated back into the L&I app. In August, L&I became the first Department to provide its extensive collection of data in a way that can be easily searched, mapped, and analyzed by any user with internet access.
Said Philly311 Contact Center Director Rosetta Lue, “This is a great example of how the Philly311 app provides a civic engagement platform. Rather than building a separate application, we’re adding new functionality to an existing tool we’ve already paid for and 10,000 residents already have.”
City representatives will also be on hand at this weekend’s “Random Hacks of Kindness” civic software programming event, co-organized by local technology news site TechnicallyPhilly.com and Drexel University. They will talk with participants about the open source project and encourage their support in helping to enhance it. To find out more about the Hacks of Kindness event visit TechnicallyPhilly.com.
“This effort by L&I underscores not only the City’s commitment to providing more open access to important data, but also our desire to use open data as a catalyst for further innovation with our partners in the technology and entrepreneurial communities,” said Chief Innovation Officer Adel Ebeid. “We are at the beginning of the process, and we plan on doing much more to collaborate with our partners in the Philadelphia technology community.”
The Philly311 app has proven to be very popular with more than 10,000 Philadelphians having downloaded it in the last two months. The app not only allows residents to report issues to the City via their smartphone, it is also an important way to find out time sensitive information like their polling location or the City’s response to Hurricane Sandy.