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South Orange Rolls Out New App for Reporting Problems, Concerns

By ADAM STILES

January 22, 2014 at 2:05 PM

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ -- Village residents now have access to a 311 system that features both a mobile and web-based option.

The platform, provided by New York City-based technology firm PublicStuff, allows users who register an account to log various complaints and requests for services that will then be seen by the appropriate village department.

“We’re really excited about this,” Alex Torpey, village president, said at a recent board meeting.

Users have an option to sign up via Facebook or simply to use an email address.

In addition being able to log requests, there are options to view emergency alerts in the area, a “prepare and plan” section for emergency weather situations and a link to the South Orange Police tip line.

The app features the ability to upload a photo along with their complaint in order to illustrate the problem or concern, such as a pothole or the exact site of a complaint about a natural gas smell. Other users then are able to comment on or “like” the complaint.

Village Administrator Barry Lewis Jr. said that the village has seen a good response to the “soft launch” of the site. After final bugs are worked out, the village plans to launch an informational campaign about the new system.

According to its website, PublicStuff is available in 200 cities nationwide including Philadelphia, Palo Alto, Calif., and New York.

Users can download the free app for their iPhone or Android device by searching for “PublicStuff Mobile.” The link for the web-based version is http://southorange.org/soconnect.        

The reporter is a student participating in hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts.