drive around town, see a pothole, graffiti or garbage, and we call 311. We have that level of trust and faith in the system.
The 311 system also is a great way of getting performance statistics back. We have an anti-graffiti program, in which we counted every single tag on every block of every street of every neighborhood in the district. We counted again a year later after enlisting citizen block captains to quickly tell the city when graffiti goes up so we can get it painted over. We're able to track by neighborhood where those calls come from and the number of calls, and compare that to other districts to see how we're doing.
How will the 311 system evolve?
Garcetti: It needs to evolve from "one call to city hall" to "one call does it all." Even though there are more than 1,000 different city issues that the 311 ambassadors can deal with, most of the issues are still being logged by the ambassadors, passed on to the proper department, and then back.
So it's a two-step process instead of seamless integration with our Street Services Bureau, for example. We need to make sure the IT in all our departments matches up with the 311 interface.
Why is it important for Los Angeles to deploy citywide wireless Internet connectivity?
Garcetti: Access to the Internet is becoming a basic utility of human life. We should look at wireless Internet access at least as a public partnership, if not even a public good. It's important for the market to fit into that, and for private providers to have an opportunity to compete. But I think there's a real argument for public good in terms of driving our economy and educating our youth.
We opened the first Wi-Fi park in Los Angeles in probably the lowest income area of the city -- an area I represent in East Hollywood. Through a partnership, it allows area kids to take laptops into a park, do their homework and have Internet access for free.
I'm all for the market building out in our airports and places where people can afford a $16 access fee for a 24-hour period. But for kids, if they can't get to a library -- which has been a great part of free access -- we have to be able to put that infrastructure in place. If there are private partners who would like to step up and show us a model where we can make sure folks with lower incomes have free or near-free access, we're open to that. But I think we're also open through our Department of Water and Power to looking at whether this can just be done as a public initiative.
We're pretty unique in the country. San Francisco, Philadelphia and others are looking at citywide build-out with the private sector. We actually have all the power poles and access points to look at having citywide Wi-Fi done through the city if we want to. We're beginning to assess the best way to move forward. In the meantime, we're aggressively pushing for growing some of our current pilot projects beyond Pershing Square, Van Nuys City Hall and the Wi-Fi park I mentioned.
What are the barriers to deploying these sorts of projects?
Garcetti: Most barriers with technology are psychological. The financial ones are serious, but they're second order.
We've initiated an open source initiative for city software, for instance, and we've seen it work in plenty of places. We've offered ourselves up -- my staff tests Open Office and other things -- and we live quite happily realizing how much cheaper it could be. But when you have to convince dozens of departments and IT people who are used