Curaçao has a challenging relationship with data. On the one hand everyone wants to get their hands on as much data as possible (privacy be damned sometimes) but we quite often ignore the data we have to make decisions. And finding people willing to share their data is like finding a needle in a stack of needles. This is why last week was so positively refreshing; when the Department of Traffic, Transport, and Urban Planning (VVRP) asked the people to share pothole locations for the department to fix.
The premise was technically a simple one. VVRP had been geting a lot of criticism for the state that the roads are in currently and they needed to a) fix hundreds of potholes all over the island, b) find all these potholes to fix, and c) show that they care about the people and their cars. In comes the Curaçao 311 app (the project is listed on the site here) which people can use to report things like social distancing issues, garbage in the street, etcetera, and.... potholes. The app has been around for a while (~2 years) and it has been used sporadically, but not yet to its full potential. Combining VVRP's needs with the Curaçao 311 app was/is a marriage made in heaven.
Participation equals ownership; if the people participate in fixing issues they will be more likely to support the process and feel good about the department that's doing the fixing. Looking at the amount of reports of last week (~300, you can see this on the Curaçao 311 website) and the fixed potholes we've seen while out and about, we definitely think that this will be a big win for VVRP. Only 3 have been marked as solved so far, with a nice graphic indicating that VVRP fixed the hole, but at least several other reported potholes have also been fixed already so we assume they'll start marking more potholes as fixed soon. Once they do this, the people who made those reports can see that their participation was noticed and that it mattered in fixing an issue. This is a pure and simple win-win sitation.
Besides the win for VVRP and the people who participated, it's also a win for the 311 app. The app was given a chance to show its worth in connecting the people to solutions, and it showcases how crowdsourced data can be used by the government of Curaçao. We hope that this is the first of many more collaborations and not only as an incidental campaign, but as a structured way for people to report issues and for the responsible parties to then fix these issues.
You can download the Curaçao 311 on the App Store for iOS and on the Play Store for Android. For more information about the Curaçao 311 app, visit their website where you can also see an overview of all reports and filter them by category, status, and date.