Hello archaeologists,

I’d like to share with you an article from the latest Wired magazine (the November issue): “Invisible City: What a Hundred Million Calls to 311 Reveal About Ne York”. I’ll bring a copy on Wednesday.

Launched in 2003, 311 fields on average more than 50,000 calls a day, offering information about more than 3,600 topics (e.g. school closing, recycling rules, pothole repairs, homeless centers). – “…311 is designed to re-create some of the human touch of small-town life in the context of a vast metropolis”.

The 311 service has already reached the million-mark: the hundreds of millions of calls also represent a huge pull of data, to be collected and transformed into actionable solutions. 311 documents residents’ problems, to transform them into usable intelligence. Each complaint is logged, tagged and mapped to make it available for subsequent analysis.

The article refers to this service as a “data-driven approach to urban life”, and recognizes that “311 is just the beginning: as technologies evolve, all this pooling and sharing and analysis of data will allow cities to get increasingly sophisticated in how they solve urban problems”.

The article also discusses some initiatives that represent new ways of imagining the relationships between governments and citizens.  This is the case of NYC BigApps competition, where participants submit tools and solutions to help NYC become more “transparent, accessible, and accountable” (click here for the 2009 winners).

Hope you find this interesting,