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City Council passes Queens elected’s bill to shore up city’s storm response

Councilman Robert Holden passed legislation to improve the city's response following tropical storms like Isaias last summer. (QNS file photo)

When Tropical Storm Isaias tore through the borough last August, it left tens of thousands of Queens residents in the dark and uprooted trees across the borough.

Many found that seeking assistance from the city clearing storm damage and restoring utilities was no easy task, and property owners and businesses across Queens phoned in nearly 10,000 reports of fallen trees to 311 and complained of the city’s slow response.

But during its stated meeting on Tuesday, May 12, the City Council passed legislation authored by Councilman Robert Holden, known as Intro 1755, that requires the New York City Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications to conduct an assessment of the interactive 311 map that is used for service requests and complaints, in order to determine how the 311 map can be improved.

A logistical hurdle many callers to 311 encounter is explaining the location of the problem that needs addressing. Often, an address is not enough or the addresses given are not definable — and Tropical Storm Isaias revealed many shortcomings of the 311 system, especially when it came to reporting downed trees.

“I have spent the better part of 40 years working as a community activist and I know that aside from calling a council member’s office, 311 is the most direct way New Yorkers can interact with city government and get results,” Holden said. “Technology should be leveraged to address shortcomings, and the city must embrace modernization whenever possible. Intro 1755 will improve the accuracy of the 311 system and make it even better.”

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