The story starts with the residents of Philadelphia. As Election Day neared, a substantial number of Philadelphia residents wished for some way to obtain centralized, up-to-date polling information.
Normally such a request would take weeks, or even months, for a city government to process. In the case of the Philly311 Election Day app, however, the City of Philadelphia was able to side-step bureaucracy, and quickly, in order to satisfy the demands of the people.
This is how that happened.
The Philly311 team went to the Office of City Commissioner who was willing to help. The Commissioner’s Office provided the Philly311 team with the most up-to-date polling data so that they could hand it off to the G.I.S. Services Group in the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation and Technology. The G.I.S. Services Group was quick to get the data onto the Philadelphia government map website so that Vincent Polidoro and Tim Wisniewski could actually build app over the weekend before the weekend, which they did.
By the Monday before Election Day, the Philly311 Mobile App had an “Election Day” widget that included a polling locator with a map, information about candidates and their social media accounts, ballot questions, voter id rules, and polling hours.
“What was great about the Election Day widget was that none of our nearly 10,000 users needed update the mobile app. It just appeared on their phones, ready for Election Day.” Tim Wisniewski said after it was all over.
But how did it actually work?
“One man at my community meeting couldn’t find polling information.” Philly311 employee Kathy Cruz told the staff, “I told him to try the Philly311 Mobile App and he downloaded it on spot. He was so happy.”
Another 311 employee used her app to actually direct voters to their correct polling locations. “When I was in line to vote, I noticed a couple of people who came to the wrong polling place. I used my Philly311 app to tell them where to go. Eventually, a line formed in front of me with people who wanted me to plug their address into the app and tell them where to go.”
Philadelphia’s Customer Service Officer and Philly311’s Director Rosetta Carrington Lue said of the app, “It’s so exciting to find yet another channel to provide our residents with a more open and accessible government. We’re happy with what we accomplished and proud of everyone who worked hard to make it happen.”
The Philly311 Team would like to give a special thanks to Vincent Polidoro, Sarah Cordivano, David Walk, and the Philadelphia residents who saw a need and spoke out.