Toronto Mayor Wants Residents To Report Graffiti Via iPhone, And Pay For The Privilege

from the good-luck-with-that dept

As our Canadian readers surely know, Toronto has a weird relationship with its current mayor, Rob Ford. I won't get into all the details, but basically he's a bit of a clown, elected by outlying semi-suburban neighbourhoods and roundly hated by most people downtown (except the city press, for whom he is an endless source of mockable quotes and photos). Among his many, many controversial initiatives as mayor is an anti-graffiti push that has come under fire for indiscriminately targeting authorized street art alongside actual vandalism (including the removal of one mural that was actually commissioned and paid for by the city itself). Apparently he's just as clueless about technology as he is about art, because as reader abc gum sends in, he's now asking people to report graffiti with an iPhone app—which costs money.

Taking the city's battle to clean up Toronto digital, Rob Ford visited a lane way near St. Clair and Lansdowne to unveil a new mobile app that lets citizens report unwanted graffiti instantly. Instead of coughing up for a phone call, smart phone users can now snap a picture and whisk it off to 311 for processing.

"This is as efficient as it gets," remarked Ford at press conference earlier today. "This will make it easier than ever to report graffiti vandalism and help keep the city spotless.


The app, which costs $1.99 (and is currently only available for iPhone), lets Apple smartphone users send photographs directly to the city with a request to remove of the offending material. If the property owner fails to clean up the tag, the city will - so they say - step in and bill the owner for the work.

Uh-huh. So instead of "coughing up" a phone call to the city information line, Rob Ford is hoping people will cough up two bucks (not even 99 cents?). And not just any people—the iPhone wielding, app downloading demographic that is his biggest enemy and the least interested in fighting graffiti. Whether it's pitched as a useful service for citizens or a request that they do their civic duty, slapping a price tag on it makes it little more than a joke.

Perhaps the most telling thing is that the app is built on the Open311 API that Toronto (among other cities) uses to provide access to city services—and yet nobody else seems to be bothering to try to build a graffiti reporting app. If there was a demand for it, there would be a swarm of developers working on it, and they probably would have beaten the city to the punch. Somehow I doubt that a two-dollar app is going to make people suddenly realize they've wanted this all along.

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  1. icon
    Bennett (profile), 24 Apr 2012 @ 8:54am

    Ford is a Fool

    Judging by many of the comments here, it's obvious that many of the readers do not understand just how much of a buffoon Toronto's mayor Rob Ford is.

    Yes the idea of a graffiti reporting app does have some technical merit, and yes it could bring the City of Toronto some funding. However the numbers we're talking about are not significant.

    We're talking about a mayor, who on his first day of office threw away $65,000,000.00 of annual funding, in order to "stop the war on the car". This is in a city that allegedly has the worst commute times in North America! Even if every Torontonian bought this iPhone app, we're barely talking about a fraction of the funds Ford has thrown away! uting-times

    There are other questions of course. How much did it cost the city to develop this application? How much money is the city spending employing by-law officers to police businesses that have graffiti on their buildings? (yes I've seen a business I consult for ticketed first hand!) If the city really cares about cutting costs, and being digitally responsible, why aren't they running GNU/Linux instead of a product produced by a foreign firm?

    Sadly for those of us unfortunate enough to live in Toronto, we have to live with Ford for a minimum of two more years. Worse, we have to live with a population that widely elected this racist homophobe into office.

    If you think I'm exaggerating about the racist/homophobe line, I can produce City Council minutes, and other quotes to backup my statements.

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