A recent press release from the Mayor’s office reads:
“Initiative significantly increases fines for graffiti offenses, offers rewards to those who help police apprehend graffiti vandals, and enhances city’s clean-up capabilities” (read full release here).
There exists the potential for some positive outcomes with the new proposal. Increasing the penalty from $200 up to $1,000 may have a deterrence factor. Likewise, the release indicates that the City may step up and enforce a city ordinance that gives private property owners 10 days to remove the graffiti or seek the City’s assistance in doing so. Enforcing existing regulations is a great start.
Another initiative referenced in the release is that citizens can file a graffiti report electronically at the city’s website. Unfortunately, the graffiti reporting tool is yet another government run roach motel (in that data goes in, but it never comes back out). Providence must follow the lead of other large cities (Chicago’s ICAM data drives chicagocrime.org or Washington DC’s Service Request data) that are using technology to increase transparency and visibility into city services.
What is missing on the City’s graffiti reporting site is a view of the data that citizens have submitted. A view that includes
- the date the graffiti was reported
- the location of the graffiti (perhaps with a neighborhood designation so citizens could see all the graffit data on their neighborhood)
- the date that the City placed a notice on the property to start the 10-day enforcement countdown
- the date the City is scheduled to remove the graffiti
- confirmation that the graffiti has been removed
Something perhaps like this:
The electronic reporting is a good first step, let’s hope our city takes the next one towards greater transparency into the services it purports to provide.