San Francisco Residents Can Tweet 311

MIT engineers take the guesswork out of public transit.

by / July 6, 2009

Sensible System

MIT architects and engineers have taken the guesswork out of public transit for commuters in Florence, Italy, by creating a futuristic bus stop called EyeStop, which lets users plan bus trips on an interactive map, surf the Web, monitor their real-time exposure to pollutants and use their mobile devices as an interface with the bus shelter. Users can post ads and community announcements on its electronic bulletin board. EyeStop also powers itself through sunlight and collects real-time information about the surrounding environment. -- Massachusetts Institute of Technology

San Francisco Tweet

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced in June that residents can make 311 customer service requests or complaints to the city's call center using Twitter.

Residents can tweet to the city's call center about various services like graffiti removal, potholes, garbage maintenance and street cleaning. Mobile users also can send messages and pictures using a third-party application.

To make service requests, residents who have Twitter accounts must follow San Francisco's account at SF311. Once a service request is submitted, it's logged by a call taker into a customer relationship management database. The resident is then given a tracking number so he or she can follow up on the issue. Users can send direct messages to the call center by appending the letter "D" before SF311, which allows them to receive real-time responses. However, users with general inquiries usually receive a link to the information they need.

The city had 1,500 followers in the first days of service. The city's site also features a list of sample tweets.

Crime Tracker

Worried about crime in your community? Citizens nationwide can search and track crime data from more than 800 participating police departments on, and Live feeds from police record-keeping systems are automatically posted to these sites, according to The Wall Street Journal. The service is free to users and lets them post blogs and offer tips to law enforcement.

Business Continuity

A recent survey of 159 Government Technology subscribers found that many had experienced unplanned outages and other business continuity issues during the past 12 months.


Karen Stewartson

Karen Stewartson served as the managing editor of Government Technology for many years. She also contributed to Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines.