The City of Chicago has debuted a new app to help residents with a number of common issues, including fixing a pothole on your street or a tree that needs trimming.
Chicago’s new “CHI 311” app is now online, and officials say it's like having the city in your pocket.
"You now have all city services in your pocket, and it's a dramatic difference,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “It's going to fundamentally change the way people interact with the city that works."
After two years of development, the app is now available for download from Apple or Google.
Instead of calling 311 and talking to an operator, the app and website allow residents to create an account, then use their smartphone or computer to report things like broken street lights, potholes, and abandoned vehicles. They can also put in requests for services like rodent control and graffiti removal.
Unlike the phone service, the app allows users to check the status of their request or complaint.
"And this system allows them to be basically similar to the Amazon model,” said Audrey Mathis, Director of 311 Services. “They set up an account, they can basically track it themselves."
All of this leads to the inevitable question: Will this make alderman obsolete?
"No, I don't think anything's ever going to make us obsolete," said Ald. Walter Burnett, 27th Ward.
Ald. Burnett says the 311 app will help aldermen as well by reducing the number of calls from people wondering about the status of their service.
However, he says, even in the digital age, you still need some aldermanic muscle.
"Even though you put them on a computer, you need that extra push sometimes, where we have to call the commissioners and expedite it and get it done,” said Ald. Burnett.
The CHI 311 app is part of a $35 million overhaul of the city’s 311 system.