The following post was written by Andrew Nicklin of NYC DoITT, a long time member of the Open311 community. It’s a cross-post from the original at technickle.nicklin.info. The points Andrew raise about the challenges of scaling Open311 as an open platform are spot on and the whole post seemed important enough to re-post here. Andrew also thought it’d be best to get feedback about these issues here on the main Open311 website.
As Open311 adoption grows rapidly, with more endpoints on the way, it’s time to start developing a broader strategy to solve some new problems that will emerge. I think one of the first of those problems will be recognizing where someone is, and connecting them automatically to the right Open311 endpoints (yes, I do mean plural- more on this in a moment). In his Open311 Wish List, Philip Ashlock starts to tackle this:
As more cities stand up their endpoints, it becomes more of a challenge to know they all exist and make sure client applications can discover them. Several years ago we started thinking about an idea called GeoWebDNS that would essentially act as a geospatial lookup service for geographically bound web services. Ian Bicking, built a proof of concept and I later discovered that the FCC was evaluating a similar, albeit more robust, proposal called LoST (see reference implementation) to be used for the same purpose on Next Generation 911 services. So far, these are merely proposals, but we’re increasingly in need of one of these systems to be put to use as a real world pilot and eventually to act as a critical piece of civic infrastructure.
So with that goal in mind, here are a few issues that I think need to be tackled in order to have a sustainable future.
A final note on this: neither GeoWeb DNS, nor LoST (IETF RFC 5222) seem to support returning multiple services per query.
The good news is that I believe there are solutions to all of these challenges. Before we start digging into those, however, I invite the community to comment on these and, more importantly, identify other challenges which I have missed or am unable to see from my perspective.
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Open311.org is meant to facilitate an international effort to build open interoperable systems that allow citizens to more directly interact with their cities. Learn more →
The Open311 initiative was established by OpenPlans and is managed by Civic Commons.