August 16, 2007SCOUT Inspectors with GPS-Enabled Handheld Devices Will Travel Every Street Citywide Once per Month
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today launched the Street Conditions Observation Unit (SCOUT), a new team of inspectors in the Mayor's Office of Operations whose mission is to drive every City street once per month and report conditions that negatively impact quality of life to 311. Reports transmitted from the SCOUT inspectors' hand-held devices will enter the 311 system and be routed to the relevant agency for appropriate corrective action - just as when a New Yorker calls 311. The goal of the SCOUT program is to improve of street level quality of life in City neighborhoods and to further the responsiveness of City government to quality of life conditions. The SCOUT program will be administered by the Mayor's Office of Operations, which also administers the City's Scorecard rating system that recently gave the City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) its highest ever rating for streets that are "acceptably clean," 94.3%. At the announcement, held at the Heckscher Playground in Brooklyn, the Mayor also welcomed a donation of paint to the Mayor's Paint Program from Benjamin Moore Paints.
"This new team, equipped with GPS technology, will bring an extra set of eyes to our City streets," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Whenever I'm driving through the City and I see a pothole or garbage on the street, I'll pick up the phone and report the problem to 311, just like thousands of citizens do every day. Now we'll deploy a team of veteran city workers to do the same, armed with new technology and their knowledge of quality of life concerns in our City."
SCOUT Inspectors, who will work under the Mayor's Office of Operations, will use GPS-enabled hand-held devices specially programmed to report the conditions they observe. When the SCOUT team is fully operational, 15 inspectors will drive three-wheeled scooters and travel every City street once per month. The same off-the-shelf software used by large corporations will take the reports transmitted from the hand-held devices and enter them into the 311 system as if the relevant information had just been taken from a 311 Call Center Representative. For SCOUT Inspector reports, information on who made the complaint will remain anonymous.
"The SCOUT program will give the Mayor's Office an opportunity to see first-hand the quality-of-life conditions that impact every neighborhood in the City," said Mayor's Office of Operations Director Jeff Kay. "With SCOUT inspectors in the field, we can provide City agencies with a real-time snapshot of those conditions, and ensure they take appropriate action."
"The 311 Customer Service Center has set the standard for call centers across the country and world, and through the SCOUT program we'll continue to raise the bar," said DoITT Commissioner Paul Cosgrave. "The latest in a host of technology initiatives aimed at bettering the lives of New Yorkers, SCOUT promises to further the transparency, accountability and accessibility of City government-and we're proud to assist in attaining that ideal."
The SCOUT Inspectors will observe and report to 311 conditions including litter or debris on the sidewalk; illegal dumping; overflowing litter baskets; street potholes; graffiti on buildings; missing traffic signs; dangling, or fallen over traffic signs; open fire hydrants; fallen over newspaper boxes; parks property damage; bus shelters damaged; and sidewalk shed ads. These conditions will be reported to the appropriate agency for corrective action, including the Mayor's Community Assistance Unit, Department of Sanitation, Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Buildings and the Department of Parks and Recreation.
The first SCOUT teams began their inspection of streets on August 6th, and when the program is fully operational it is expected that the SCOUT Inspectors will generate between 1,000 and 3,000 reports per day, compared to 311's current total of approximately 7,000 service requests per day. The Mayor's Office of Operations will retain a record of all calls entered into the 311 system and the SCOUT program will include inspections to see that the necessary work has been carried out. The Mayor thanked Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler, Mayor's Office of Operations Director Jeff Kay and DoITT Commissioner Paul Cosgrave for their work on this project.
Sanitation Sets New Street Cleanliness Record
The Mayor also announced that the City's street cleanliness Scorecard, an independent visual inspection program managed by the Mayor's Office of Operations, has found New York City streets to be at a record-breaking high, with 94.3 % of streets rated "acceptably clean" for Fiscal Year 2007.
Although the rating is indicative of the city as a whole, even the lowest performing area in the city - Section 2, located in Brooklyn Community Board 3, which encompasses densely populated transportation hubs in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Stuyvesant Heights, and Ocean Hill - had 82.1% of streets rated "acceptably clean," the highest rating it has ever received. The rating of the section of Brooklyn Community Board 4 that houses the Heckscher Playground, the site of today's announcement, has risen from 69.2% streets "acceptably clean" in Fiscal Year 2002 to 89.8% in Fiscal Year 2007.
Scorecard, the street and sidewalk rating system, was created by city planners in 1975. Scorecard employs raters who go out monthly, unannounced, to visually examine and rate the cleanliness of City streets.
"Our streets are cleaner than they've been at any time since we started keeping track more than 30 years ago," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Our Sanitation Workers do a tough job exceptionally well, and they deserve our thanks."
"This is a proud day for the Department of Sanitation and for New York City," said Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty. "Street and sidewalk cleanliness have enormous impacts on the quality of life, health, and safety of the people who live and work in this wonderful city. The fact that city streets and sidewalks are the cleanest they have ever been is a testament to the diligence, determination and passion of the men and women of the Department who keep the Big Apple shining every day."
Mayor's Paint Program
The Mayor also announced that Benjamin Moore generously donated 2,900 gallons of paint to the Mayor's Paint Program, which is run by the Mayor's Community Assistance Unit (CAU), through the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City. The Mayor's Paint Program, which enhances the efforts of the Mayor's citywide anti-graffiti initiative, gives community and volunteer groups the supplies and paints to execute their own cleanup projects. So far this year 388 gallons of paint, 316 roller sleeves, 165 roller frames, 162 paint trays, 112 drop cloths and 81 poles have been distributed to civic groups. Community groups can obtain paint for exterior projects by calling 311.
"Mayor Bloomberg's Paint Program is another tangible effort in keeping New York City the best city in the world," said Benjamin Moore Paints President Denis Abrams. "And Benjamin Moore, with its roots in Brooklyn, is pleased to play a role by donating nearly 3,000 gallons of paint so that communities across the city can better maintain and beautify their properties."
Last season the Mayor's Graffiti Free NYC Program, also administered by CAU, painted 5,677,000 square feet and pressure-washed 660,000 square feet for a total of 6,337,000 square feet of removed graffiti. So far this season, the graffiti removal program has cleaned 2,778 locations in all five boroughs. CAU has also added ten new graffiti removal trucks to its fleet for a total of 23 trucks in operation citywide. Graffiti removal trucks paint or power wash graffiti off locations for which the City has received a waiver signed by the owner or manager of the property.
"The Community Affairs Unit works daily to improve quality of life for all New Yorkers," said Commissioner Nazli Parvizi. "Our streets are cleaner and safer than ever and our anti-graffiti efforts, along with the SCOUT program, will help ensure they stay that way."