Pittsburgh begins receiving problem reports via mobile phones

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Pittsburgh has won the "space race" with Boston to adopt the first iPhone application for reporting and cataloging citizen complaints through a mobile phone.

An application called iBurgh became available via Apple's iTunes store Saturday night that allows residents to snap iPhone photos of problems such as potholes and graffiti and send them to the city's 311 complaint system, embedded with Global Positioning System data with the problem's exact location. The free application, designed by YinzCam Inc. of Squirrel Hill, will issue the reports to city departments for review, just as the city's current 311 complaint phone line does.

The application is part of efforts announced last month by city Councilman William Peduto and the city Information Systems department to make Pittsburgh a leader in "e-Democracy," which came on the heels of an announcement from Boston that it was developing a similar app. Mr. Peduto announced then that Pittsburgh wanted to beat Beantown to the punch, and it seems to have succeeded.

It helps that the developers at YinzCam -- which is led by Priya Narasimhan, director of Carnegie Mellon's Mobility Research Center -- had already launched mobile-phone based applications at Penguins games last year, allowing users to see unique in-game replays and camera angles through their phones.

The iBurgh application is currently only available for use on iPhones, but will be expanded for use on most other smart phones soon. User of iPhones can find it through the "App Store" application on their phones or via http://appshopper.com/utilities/iburgh

YinzCam donated the program to the city for free, with hopes of marketing it to other cities. More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Timothy McNulty can be reached at tmcnulty@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1581.


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