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Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications

The Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) provides much of the city’s technology infrastructure but there are some significant omissions.

311 System.  DoITT operates the city’s innovative yet failing 311 system.  311 is a failure because it was implemented as a complaint tracking system rather than a city management system.  Thus someone who submits a complaint to 311 can easily find the agency's response to the complaint but not how many similar complaints have been filed.  More important, if the agency’s response is “everything is fine” or “problem was fixed” but in fact the original issue remains, the only solution is a new complaint.  And the new complaint is not linked to the prior complaint so there is no record that the previous issue was closed improperly.  This is a gross design failure.

Also, the citizen time and effort to submit an issue to 311 is excessive - sometimes on the order of 15 minutes to report a street defect.  Even worse, the people at 311 don’t have access to Google Maps or Bing Maps so communication can be unnecessarily difficult, particularly when the 311 map database doesn’t confirm to the legal maps maintained by the Borough Presidents, DOT or NYPD maps and databases.  And the system is “dumb” in the sense that there is no citizen option to maintain a profile either for voice (311) call in or on-line access so that a citizen must repeatedly provide all identifying information; absurd in the twenty-first century.

But the worst part of 311 is the inability to accept calls about issues outside of the city limits.  Now you may ask why should a New York City system be concerned with what happens ouside the city?  The answer is simple.  The city owns or controls significant land in six upstate counties (Schoharie, Sullivan, Delaware, Ulster, Greene, and Westchester)  to supply drinking water.  In addition, it has pipes that run through Nassau County.  While there is some limited ability to contact DEP about problems upstate by calling the local police, there is none in Nassau County.

Telecommunications Directory.  Historically, the city published the Green Book, which contains information about senior management of city, state, and federal agencies as well as their phone numbers.  But there is no comprehensive list of all city telephones nor is there a list of city employees e-mail addresses.  And the on-line Green Book is not a database.  A user must know the department and area within the department to use it.  As such, it is a primitive organization chart, but nothing more.