Foodborne Chicago Many people don’t report food poisoning to the health department, slowing responses to outbreaks of food-borne illnesses. This service scans Twitter looking for anyone complaining of food poisoning and flags anything that appears to be legitimate and local. A real person reviews the flagged tweet and, if it checks out, sends a reply via Twitter asking them to report the poisoning to the health department via an online form. (Developers: Joe Olson, Cory Nissen, Scott Robbin, Raed Mansour, Daniel O’Neil)…
Spothole Do you see a pothole? If so, click “Spot a Pothole” and easily file a complaint from your mobile phone. The app then uses an algorithm to rank the potholes, allowing city crews to address the most critical ones in a given area. (Stefan Draht, Brett Schnacky)
Can I Bring My Bike on the Metra Right Now? Simple question. Simple answer. Plus additional information on bike parking around Metra stations. (Steven Vance, Francesco Villa)
Clear Streets A more muscular version of the city’s Plow Tracker. This site reports which streets have been cleared of snow and includes a “plow leader board” of most active trucks. (Forest Gregg, Derek Eder and Juan-Pablo Velez)…
Sweeparound.us Type in your address and find out when your street will be swept. Register for an email, text message or calendar alert — or all of the above — to remind yourself to move your car to avoid a ticket or tow. (Scott Robbin)
Was My Car Towed? Supply your license plate number and find out whether the city towed your car. (Scott Robbin)
These could be very useful in a pinch. I get the idea that these apps are intended to help residents improve and understand the services in their city. At the same time, the apps listed by the Tribune seem fairly negative (potholes, avoiding tickets, making sure restaurants are clean, etc.) and giving citizens tools by which to complain about or track what the city is doing with their tax dollars. What about civic apps that help residents enjoy the city more? Perhaps this has already been taken by apps like Yelp. Plus, do apps like these take out the randomness of urban life or simply free people up to enjoy the city even more?