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The 311 Data Dump: What Do Hartfordians Worry About?

By Kerri Provost

November 22, 2010

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Wired Magazine’s article “What a Hundred Million Calls to 311 Reveal About New York” describes how that city’s 311 service has actually solved some larger mysteries, like the source of an odd odor in part of NYC. Sure, their center has over one hundred employees, but New York is also many, many times more populated than Hartford. One would expect that sifting through Hartford’s available data would be simple.

In the next few days, we’ll be looking at what active 311 cases tell us about Hartford. In other words, what is it that Hartfordites worry about?

Today, we will look at the issues in the North Meadows, North East, Clay Arsenal, Upper Albany, Blue Hills, West End, and Parkville neighborhoods. Parkville’s largest concern, by and large, is graffiti. Almost every complaint entered for that neighborhood fits this category. Blue Hills has a major tree problem. Clay Arsenal, North East, and Upper Albany have a large number of housing complaints, both of the urgent and non-urgent varieties.

See the Related Links box for a chart of data representing active (unresolved) 311 cases in the aforementioned neighborhoods.

Data may not be scientific, as I am not a mathmologist. You are welcome to inspect the data yourself.

Part 2 - Downtown and South Neighborhoods

Yesterday, we looked at 311 data for most of the city’s North neighborhoods. Today, we’re going to look at two separate sets of data: Downtown; South End, South West, South Meadows, South Green, and Sheldon/Charter Oak neighborhoods.

Downtown is a creature unto itself. There are only 31 active 311 cases for downtown, and many were issued by the same person. What’s interesting about the downtown data is what’s not on the list: parking. Since there are items listed as “active” that were submitted months ago, one would expect that something that is discussed daily as a problem would have appeared on the complaint registry at some point.

The complaints get more diversified and interesting when one adds more people to the mix. In the South End, someone was irritated by a person parking his/her vehicle on the front lawn. Someone had a concern about a traffic island getting mowed. In the South West neighborhood, trees were the top irritant. The South End was split between housing complaints and tree complaints. The South Meadows, which had only a handful of active issues, attracts graffiti, but nowhere near the extent to which Parkville does, or perhaps, nobody cares that it exists in this industrial area. South Green’s largest number of complaints were in reference to housing and streetlights, with tax concerns and bed bugs coming in after. The Sheldon/Charter Oak neighborhood is not labeled accurately on the 311 map– the complaints in this area are either categorized as South Green or not attributed to any neighborhood. At any rate, the Sheldon/Charter Oak neighborhood’s #1 issue is housing, followed by graffiti.

Part 3 - Central Neighborhoods

On Monday we looked at what residents are concerned about in the Upper Albany, Clay Arsenal, North East, Blue Hills, West End, and Parkville neighborhoods; yesterday, we examined the data from Downtown, and from South Green, Sheldon/Charter Oak, South Meadows, South End, and South West neighborhoods. Today, we’re going to look at the rest: Behind the Rocks, Barry Square, Frog Hollow, and Asylum Hill.

Behind the Rocks’ three most frequent 311 cases are related to pesky trees, graffiti, and housing concerns. Housing concerns were the major cause of complaint for folks in Barry Square — almost three times as many as the next highest item of concern, trees. The top two issues for Frog Hollow right now are housing complaints and bedbugs. There are 28 cases related to housing in Asylum Hill; all other 311 cases in that neighborhood currently total in at 28.

As of 11/23/10, we know that the most frequently reported problems involve housing, trees, graffiti, poor lighting, and attention from the Department of Public Works.

Citywide Data

What 311 does not tell us how prevalent these issues actually are. Out of the entire city, Parkville had the leading number of graffiti complaints. There are a few ways this can be interpreted. This could mean that Parkville, in fact, does have the highest rate of graffiti. Or, it could mean that since these are active cases, nobody has gotten to cleaning the graffiti up yet. It could also mean that there is someone who lives, works, or passes through this neighborhood who despises graffiti with such a passion that s/he is registering all these complaints; however, that same person might not venture into Blue Hills, an area which happened to have very few graffiti complaints. Similarly, people might use the 311 service less in certain neighborhoods because they are not aware of it; thus, only some people’s concerns/interests are represented here.

We can also, again, take note of what is not actively bothering Hartford residents, or, at least, not bothering Hartfordites who bother to make 311 calls. There were no active complaints about grocery stores or parking, unless those were masked with a “miscellaneous” designation, but even so, there were no “miscellaneous” cases posted for Downtown. In fact, there were only seven such reports throughout the entire city, so even by stretching one’s imagination here, whatever this category actually represents is nowhere near as pressing as bedbugs or tax questions.

About those bedbugs: some areas had them more than others, but almost every neighborhood, including the “nicer” ones, had at least one report of their presence. There are more reports of this particular issue on the Bedbug Registry.

Something more definitive that we can learn from this data is that there are an inordinate number of unresolved 311 cases. There was at least one item dating back to February of 2010; there could be older cases mixed in. The official Hartford 311 page is currently down.

Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford. To view other stories on this topic, search RealHartford at http://www.realhartford.org/.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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