Philadelphia has an excellent Open Data program (link) which provides incredible access to important data that can be used by community groups and others to help focus attention on critical issues.
Let’s see how we can use 311 request data to understand Philadelphia residents priorities.
Step 1: Get the 311 Service Request Data: The City has made it very easy to access the 311 data. This page provides access to near real time details of the City’s 311 service requests. If you scroll down to the detail table you will see the latest 311 service requests, like the image below:
(Click image to enlarge)
The 311 data table also includes a link to a resident submitted photo, if provided, as well as the latitude and longitude for mapping and spatial analysis.
Users can download the entire 1 million+ set of records or subset it by user selections by zip code, service request type (illegal dumping, graffiti as examples), responsible agency or request status (open, closed). You can export the entire data set or subset to a CSV file for your own analysis.
I’ve downloaded both All Rows and Illegal Dumping Row to work directly with the full data set and the Illegal Dumping data set.
Summarizing City Wide 311 Service Data
When you start looking at the service request details, the first thing that you see is that most of the requests are for information, 728,000 out of the 1.1 million requests were for information in the 12/8/14 to 12/2/16 period. This bar chart shows requests like Illegal Dumping are barely visible because of the high volume of info requests.
Let’s see what the work requests look like if we remove the information requests.
Now we can see the specific field service requests that Philadelphia residents have made. Maintenance Residential or Commercial, Rubbish/Recycle Collection and Illegal Dumping were the 3 top requests, followed by Abandoned vehicles, Street Defects (potholes!) and Graffiti Removal.
Illegal Dumping and Vacant Lot Cleanup warrant special mention because they both deal with trash dumping. Dumping in the public right-of-way is handled by the Streets Department while vacant lot dumping is handled by CLIP, that is why 311 classifies them separately. The combined Illegal Dumping and Vacant Lot Cleanup requests (42,440) is the 2nd largest non-information service request.
Philadelphia residents are repeatedly asking for trash dumping cleanup services. We need to recognize this priority. Clearly we need to do more to prevent trash dumping, both on City streets and vacant lots.