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App Lets Residents Complain Straight to Staten Island's Borough Hall

By Nicholas Rizzi | November 20, 2014 8:57am

ST. GEORGE — A new app is letting Staten Islanders report quality of life problems directly to their borough president.

The BP Assist app launched Wednesday for iOS and Android smartphones. It lets users complain about things like graffiti or request services like a new traffic light to Borough President James Oddo — and get notifications about the status of their request straight to their phones.

"This can be the go-to app for all things Staten Island," Oddo said.

"We know more people are using smartphones. Everybody uses apps in so many facets of our lives, it only makes sense."

BP Assists lets users choose from a list of the most common complaints issued to Borough Hall, automatically generates their location and lets them add a picture of their issue. The report gets shifted through by developers PublicStuff, then sent to staff at Borough Hall's help line.

Users get notified of every step the complaint goes through and, unlike 311, the issue doesn't just get filed away into a database but given to staff, Oddo said.

"311 is a complaint that you send to a system, but it’s like putting a message into a bottle," he said. "Here we have human beings that are vibrant and follow up and fight."

Residents have the option of making their complaint public or just for Borough Hall staff and users can check a map of the borough and search through previous reports. Users can also file reports from the BP Assist website or through the traditional way of calling the borough president's office.

Aside from filing reports, the app also has a news section from Borough Hall, contact information for city agencies and information for visitors on different neighborhoods and their sites on Staten Island.

The app will also send notifications for important information, like school or road closures, but Oddo promised it won't spam residents.

"We are not going to use a notification to let you know that tomorrow is Thursday," Oddo said. "We're going to use that feature very judiciously."

"My hope is that when we put this out there some of these folks are going to see it and it inspires them that we are practicing what we are preaching in terms of tech," said Oddo, who is pushing to develop the borough as a home for tech companies.