In March last year, we wrote about a city council project in Lewisham, UK that allows citizens to send camera-phone pictures to their local council to report stray garbage, unwanted grafitti, etc. Two new spottings show that the concept is catching on. The local government of Amsterdam’s Geuzenveld district just launched an online tool that lets people pinpoint neighborhood problems on Google Maps. After filling out an online form, a marker is placed on a Google map of the area, along with information on how the complaint is being dealt with. The district is counting on the service to save time and money. Currently, a street lantern that’s out of order will lead to numerous calls and emails to the district (roughly 40% of all complaints are sent by email/internet forms). Once people get used to checking the map to see if someone else has already reported an issue, the amount of redundant notifications will presumably decrease. Geuzenveld also hopes residents will feel more involved now that they’re actually able to track how their complaint is being followed up, and that local maintenance crews will be motivated to keep the map as empty as possible, solving close to 90% of all issues within 2 days. New York, meanwhile, isn’t one to fall behind. Later this year, the city’s 911 call centers will be able to receive camera-phone pictures and videos taken by residents and visitors, straight from the scene of a crime. 311 non-emergency call centers will be similarly equipped at a later stage, allowing New Yorkers to document and photographically report on ‘quality of life problems’. Has (local) government in your neck of the woods found smart ways to use new consumer technology? Share it in the comments!