This story is part of a series on data visualization.
Unruly flora, potholes and trash are among the most popular topics for requests placed to MetroCall 311, the city’s general information and services portal, according to 311 request records going back to 2009.
The data — representing more than one million separate requests logged by the agency — shows not only those issues of perennial concern to Louisvillians, but where those issues are reported, including longitude and latitude coordinates and the Metro Council District pertaining to the request, and which city agencies bear the largest burden of responsibility for fulfilling the concerns of the citizenry.
As a division of Louisville Emergency Management Services, MetroCall has provided nonemergency reporting services to the city for more than 25 years, and in that time, it has collected a wealth of information about the types of issues that affect everyday life in the city. According to the city’s open data portal, MetroCall logs geographic information of each request in accordance with a professional “Open 311” formatting standard that is “focused on location-based nonemergency issues such as graffiti, potholes, and street cleaning.”
When MetroCall receives a request, it logs information about the request (time, date, type of request, location, etc.) and forwards it to the responsible agency, as reflected by the data. But, as a related caveat, the ability to determine a respective agency’s reaction or response time is not present in the current data set, even though it contains categories to log the date and time in which an individual service request was ostensibly “closed” by a responsive agency.
Also keep in mind that the requests are just that: requests. And as such, they showcase public perception of a particular problem or issue.
Breaking down the top 25 recurring calls in Google Fusion Tables, the following bar chart reveals that the number of calls regarding “high grass” on private property overwhelmingly takes the top spot:
By using MapBox, Insider created maps to show where these requests are coming from and geographic “intensity” of certain requests in the city by weighting each individual service request ID number within a heat map and filtering the data to reflect only certain types of requests. Weighing the requests makes the maps easier to view and understand.
As an example, below is what descriptors for calls related “bedbugs” looks like. Data for 2010 and 2009 did not include a category for “bedbugs,” so a related descriptor for insects and pests was used instead for those years. Check out the interactive map here.
Here’s another, filtered for calls pertaining to vacant or abandoned properties, including a myriad of subcategories ranging from pests in abandoned houses, trash and more.
Lastly, here’s a look at MetroCall requests mapped for “potholes” with weighting slightly reduced to make the map easier to read.
You can inspect all 1,015,448 requests from 2009 to 2018 here.