Whenever there's trouble, they're there on the double.
January 2, 2013 8:20 AM   Subscribe

"On a good day, the street maintenance team tasked by the New York City Department of Transportation with roadway repair might fill 4,000 potholes in eight hours. In an average week, they could resurface 100,000 square yards of road. After Hurricane Sandy, their crews removed 2,500 tons of debris. And every day, on a Tumblr called The Daily Pothole, New Yorkers can take a peek inside the workings of a city system few have likely thought about." Storyboard: A Day with New York City’s Pothole Repair Crew.

"One of the most popular online inventions of New York City’s government is The Daily Pothole, a blog that tracks, in gravelly detail, the milling and paving of street cavities from Midwood to Midtown. It is eye candy for the asphalt-obsessed: panoramic photos accompanied by comic captions (“Bump!” “Sneak Attack!”) and a goggle-eyed mascot named Warmy, an asphalt plug, to boot."
posted by zarq (8 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Fascinating. Does Ms. Sterne have anything to do with the Mayor's twitter account? Or the development of the nyc.gov/311 site? Or are those things handled by others?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:30 AM on January 2, 2013

WAIT, look at that, I answered my own question: For all his technological prowess, however, the mayor has largely avoided social media. While he has more than 123,000 followers on Twitter, his aides manage the account.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:32 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

My toddlers and I really enjoyed looking at the MTA's Hurricane Sandy preparations on flickr. While we're not New Yorkers, it helped me understand why they shut the system down so early and how very, very much work went into preparing the system for the storm (and my kids like looking at trains). And while a lot of it was specific to NYC and hurricanes, I also learned things like what happens with rail crossing arms in high winds (and why some rural crossings in tornado-prone areas near me don't have them!).

I think putting public works on social media is very helpful; the truth is that public works, for the most part, WORKS, so we don't think about it a whole lot and get irritated by potholes and power outages. Understanding what goes into maintaining and repairing these largely silent systems that we use every day helps me, as a citizen, understand why the buses can't run right after a snowstorm or why a sewer repair takes six weeks, which reduces my frustration since I know what to expect -- and hopefully it increases support for adequate tax funding of public works.

And honestly, it's interesting. You see these guys spending two weeks digging in a hole near your home, you get curious what's going on down there!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:52 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Ms. Sterne, however, said the city was diversifying its platforms, for instance, by providing access to the 311 help line through phone, text, Twitter and, soon, online chat.

Online chat. They're gonna have a bad time. I do kinda look forward to the screenshots of them answering questions about battletoads or if they even lift.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:08 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Relevant: Just saw this a few minutes ago: 1930
posted by growabrain at 9:15 AM on January 2, 2013

It's a good initiative, makes people aware of the largely unrecognized work that their taxes pay for.
I like potholes being fixed. One thing I took from living in Texas was that there were large potholes all over Houston, since there wasn't money to fix potholes (overreaching generalization follows: low taxes = minimal funds for public works). Instead, you end up paying money for new shocks or to repair damage to your car.
posted by arcticseal at 9:15 AM on January 2, 2013

There was a bit on Cheers 25 years ago that's still the first thing I think of whenever I see a freshly-repaired pothole:

Dr. Frasier Crane: [about Dr. Simon Finch-Royce] We were students together when I was a Rhodes scholar.
Woody Boyd: Wow, you were a Rhodes scholar?
[Frasier nods affirmatively]
Woody Boyd: Tell me this, how come the stuff they fill in the potholes with is darker than the rest of the road?
Dr. Frasier Crane: I don't know Woody. I missed that day.
Woody Boyd: And now it's come back to haunt you.
posted by usonian at 9:40 AM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

Houston, since there wasn't money to fix potholes (overreaching generalization follows: low taxes = minimal funds for public works). Instead, you end up paying money for new shocks or to repair damage to your car.

In Birmingham, UK the city picks up the tab for that too. If a pothole damages your car the city pays out for the repair.
posted by srboisvert at 1:47 PM on January 2, 2013

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