Texas City Fights Graffiti With Cell Phone App

Fighting the never-ending battle against taggers and graffiti artists just got a little easier with the city's first official smart phone application.


SAN ANTONIO --

Fighting the never-ending battle against taggers and graffiti artists just got a little easier with the city's first official smart phone application.

The city's Code Enforcement Services Department announced Friday it has an app that can be used to report unsightly tagging.

"This is kind of a one-stop shop," said Lisa McKenzie, the city's graffiti abatement coordinator. "Now you can just do one thing: push a button, turn it in and we'll do the leg work for the citizens."

According to McKenzie, the "mysanantoniotx" app just became available for download on Android phones. It is designed to speed up the reporting of graffiti.

"If we make it easy for them, they're going to let us know a lot quicker than having to call (up to) four phone numbers to turn something in, and if we know we can address it quicker," McKenzie said.

Once downloaded onto a phone, the user is guided through the simple reporting process, which classifies the type of graffiti and what it's on. A built-in GPS pinpoints where the street art is located.

All the user has to do is snap a picture and hit send.

"You can take a picture of anything with graffiti and then my staff will sort out who it goes to," McKenzie said. "If it's a dumpster or a utility pole, you know, historically, we're not going to handle that, but I know who does handle that and I'll give it to that person within 24 hours of receiving the call."

More offensive graffiti will be removed first and the rest will be scheduled to be removed later, according to McKenzie.

Only a handful of cities are using the technology, which was developed at no cost to the city.

"It's new for us, but I believe the city of Phoenix may have been one of the first cities to use this," McKenzie said. "There's an app for everything, so we're trying to jump on the bandwagon for technology."

Right now, the graffiti app is being used as a test case. If it proves to be successful in wiping out graffiti, the app can be expanded to include more features.

"We're kicking this off with graffiti reporting and if enough people use this app, and I'm sure they will, then we're going to expand it to reporting code violations."

Right now the app is only available for Android phones. You can download it for free from the market place on your Android powered device.

McKenzie said an iPhone app is on the way, but getting it approved by Apple takes a little longer, so the city expects to have that version in the app store in the next four to six weeks.

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