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Smartphones Bringing Smart Government to a City Near You

Red tape may soon be a thing of the past in Los Angeles. According to Yahoo, the city has just released a new app that lets citizens communicate directly with city officials:

[It] will let residents report potholes, pay city utility bills and look up dog parks at the tap of a virtual button.

Instead of calling 311 to report problems, residents can use the app. They can even snap photos to accompany reports of potholes or graffiti.

This will give Los Angeles residents just a taste of the governance of the future. Instead of waiting in long lines and navigating chaotic bureaucracies, Americans will be able to take care of their civic business from anywhere.

This is a minor little gee-whiz technology story, but it does point to a larger truth which tends to get lost in the shrill partisan debates: it’s not so much a question of whether we should have big government or small government as much as it is a question of how do we get a smart government. We need a government that is both more efficient and more responsive to the needs of an increasingly busy population.

In addition to being more responsive, smart governments would streamline the delivery of basic services, allowing us to invest money and time in more productive areas of the economy. Rather than tying up our resources in bloated bureaucracies, governments will have the ability to spend money on things that actually help people.

Technology is a key component to making all of this a reality.

Now if only we could do our jury duty via app…!

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  • Andrew Allison

    Much as I hate to rain on this parade, it remains to be seen what impact (as in fixing the problems) the app will have. Like most California cities, LA is both broke, and broken. If it were doing its job, there wouldn’t be any need for the app, and the blow-back as the reported problems don’t get fixed is likely to be considerable.

    • Tom_Holsinger

      I agree with Andrew Allison. This means only a more direct means of ignoring people. I’ve read several times of groups of LA homeowners creating outside the law improvement districts to fund local infrastructure improvements funded by volunteer property assessments. Often without builidng permits.
      The LA municipal government is essentially disfunctional.

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