In cities like Philadelphia, everyday residents can now alert their municipality to potholes, cracked sidewalks, and other dangerous and defective conditions via a mobile application known as PublicStuff.
A recent article in the New York Times denoted how, despite this achievement, the City of New York does NOT use the service, and instead remains relegated to the unwieldy and Orwellian 311 system. Though 311 has a web site and mobile app, these interfaces do not record whether a request was "accepted," is "in progress" or is "closed" (as it claims to do).
In the meantime, any alerts sent to PublicStuff by New York City residents are called "orphan requests," essentially meaning they go nowhere.
Of course, municipal liability for any injuries as a result of defective conditions is tightly protected through the City's "pothole law" (Administrative Code of City of NY § 7-201(c)(2)), whereby only prior written notice of a defect fifteen (15) days before an accident allows for victims to seek monetary redress. The fact that an application like PublicStuff might open the City to greater liability is outweighed by the value of making conditions safer through such a "crowdsourced" effort.
If you are interested in the City subscribing to this service, we encourage you to sign on to our online petition and/or alert your NYC Council Member regarding same. We believe the City will be safer as a result of this service.