The City Scan Hartford project will use mobile computing devices and a custom-designed software program, to help the citizens of Hartford, the nation's fourth poorest city, identify community issues and work more closely with elected officials. The project will have two main components. The first part will involve collecting data about the city. High school students will be trained to use mobile computing devices (such as Pocket PCs, digital cameras, global positioning satellite receivers, wireless modems, and custom-designed software) to collect data and document problem areas for each of Hartford's 17 Neighborhood Revitalization Zones (NRZ). Each NRZ already has an active citizen committee group. The citizen groups will be trained to use the data to create powerful reports and maps. The data from each neighborhood will then be synchronized to create a citywide database of problems that need to be addressed. In the second component, data regarding residents' opinions on municipal services and other quality of life issues will be gathered through online surveys. An interactive system will be developed to submit and track residents' complaints to City Hall. Also, a customizable on-line mapping function will be developed. Citizens will be able to aggregate, analyze, and publicize data collected in the field and online.
Hartford, Connecticut, is a classic example of a city with significant urban challenges. Since 1950, the population has decreased more than 25 percent. Middle-class flight to the suburbs, an increasing tax burden on a small geographic area, as well as high levels of poverty, teenage pregnancy, unemployment, crime, and school dropouts contribute to the difficulties facing Hartford. The city has many vacant properties, and the resulting problems of vandalism, graffiti, litter, dumping, overgrown vegetation, and rats. City Scan will help residents prioritize issues, document the extent of the problems, and provide tools to negotiate with city officials to address the problems. The program is unique, both in its use of the custom-designed City Scan software that allows data collected in the field to be downloaded and synchronized into a comprehensive database, and in its extensive use of mobile computing devices. The model can be replicated by cities across the nation that are struggling to revitalize their communities.
The Connecticut Policy and Economic Council will partner with four well-established organizations: Hartford 2000 (the city-wide coordinating agency for the NRZs), Citizens' Research and Education Network, Hartford Public Libraries, and the City of Hartford's Department of Human Resources.