Hamilton is releasing a mobile app in December that can be used to report issues like crime, potholes or burned-out street lights.

Need help from Hamilton? Now there’s an app for that

With the app, which will be called Hamilton 311, people will be able to quickly notify the city about such things as annoying potholes, burned-out street lights, illegal dumping, graffiti that should to be removed, even drug-dealing and prostitution. The app also can be used to compliment city employees on a job well done.

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Here’s how it will work: You can take a photo of that pothole, and if your smart phone’s location services are turned on, the system automatically will geo-locate the street issue for city crews, and you will receive confirmation your message has been received. You also will get notification when the problem has been solved.

“This is just making it one step easier for whenever see a problem, to send it in to us,” said Jacob Stone in Hamilton’s neighborhood services department. “Because sometimes the biggest hurdle to getting a pothole filled is knowing that the pothole’s there.”

The app will not replace emergency 911 service or the emergency line city utility customers should use when they smell natural gas.

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Adam Helms, the city’s director of resident services, which handles such issues as removing illegally dumped trash, says the application will move the city closer to around-the-clock input, even though City Hall is open eight hours a day, with exceptions of critical functions, such as police, fire and utilities.

“This really gives our citizens access to City Hall 24/7/365,” Helms said.

There also will be standards for what constitutes an adequate response time. If the person in charge of potholes, for example, doesn’t reply within that timeframe, such as 24 or 48 hours, “it’s going to get pushed up to his supervisor, so his boss can hold his feet to the fire, and say, ‘Hey, how come you haven’t responded to this?’”

The city hopes to go live with the program Dec. 4.

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Provided by Los Angeles-based CitySourced, it will cost $15,200 per year, with a one-time setup charge of $3,500.

The computer program will be far simpler for the general public — with far less guesswork. And even for people familiar with city government, such as senior analyst Aaron Hufford, who works there, it will be much faster.

On the computer-only 311 system city government will use until the new app goes live, he said, “I see things on my walk to and from work all the time, and on our current system, I have to snap a photo, email it to myself, get to my computer at home, upload it, log in (to the current 311 system), and submit it.”

On the other hand, with the new app, “I’ll just be able to open the app, snap a photo, and send it off,” Hufford said. “And I’ll be done before I get to the next block.”

Prior requests, such as replacements for street lights, will also be visible to other users. But some requests, related to crime, will go directly to Hamilton detectives and will not be visible to others.

The free Hamilton 311 app will be available for both Apple devices on iTunes (itunes.apple.com) and Android on the Google Play store (play.google.com).

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