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The 311 app is here

I’ve been waiting for this.

The brand-new Houston 311 app will allow residents to file a complaint and then track its progress. The program officially goes live Tuesday, city officials said.

Here’s how the 311 app works, city spokesman Chris Newport said:

“Say you see a pothole on your street. Before you even leave for work you can walk over, launch the app and type in ‘pothole,’ ” he said. “You have the option of taking a picture, punching in the address and answering two other questions before you hit send.”

The “really cool thing” about the new app, Newport said, is that the requests aren’t sent to a generic email inbox at the city. Instead, the SmartPhone application “creates a work order that our public works department adds to their list of things to do.”

Houston city officials last August updated the 311 non-emergency website, allowing residents to report a variety of complaints on everything from garbage pickup problems to traffic signal maintenance to water line breaks. The city’s hotline last year also expanded to 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week service. As of Jan. 13, it received an average of 5,311 calls a day for service, Newport said.

“This is just the beginning,” Newport said of the expanded options. “We’re not just launching this app and we’re done,” he said. The city plans to update on a regular basis.

Here’s a presentation that shows how to use the app to submit a report. The revamped 311 homepage, which also goes by the Houston311.org URL, has all the information you need to get the app, which is available for iPhone and Android. I’ve downloaded it onto my phone and will be on the lookout for a chance to use it. More functions are planned for the future, so keep an eye out. Harris County released a similar app in August, so it’s great to see the city follow suit. For more information, see this media guide and the Mayor’s press release.

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