New version includes Waste Wizard to help solve trash, recycling questions


SOMERVILLE – The City of Somerville is launching an improved 311 mobile app that puts a positive spin on leaving residents to their own devices. With just a few clicks, the new app now relays non-emergency complaints directly from residents to the responsible city departments, and also includes a “Waste Wizard” that provides key information on recycling and trash pickups.


The revamped “311Somerville” app, which was developed by QScend Technologies of Waterbury, CT, is the latest improvement to the city’s 24/7 customer service system. Residents who report a pothole or illegal dumping are now notified immediately – by email or text alert — that the complaint has been received. They also receive an alert once their request is resolved, and can then provide feedback on the quality of service.


Folded within the app is the city’s new Waste Wizard app, which can also be accessed directly on the City’s website at After a simple signup, the Waste Wizard reminds residents when their trash is being collected – especially useful on weeks with storms and holidays — or when there are special trash events (yes, there are special trash events like hazardous waste days or the start of yard waste pickup). Residents can also ask the Wizard how to dispose of just about anything in their homes. Users enter an item, and the app gives the answer. It knows that cooking oil goes in the trash but motor oil is household hazardous waste. There are even suggestions to donate old clothes.


“The new app makes it even easier to report issues to 311 and then to let us know how we did,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, who embraces technology that encourages resident involvement in making Somerville a better place to live. “We need you to be our eyes. That’s how you can help us get things fixed, and fixed well.”

With the new app, which is free to download for Apple and Android devices, residents can make a service request anytime. To make reporting easier, users can choose from a variety of categories – from issues with animals to street lights to utilities — and specific issues within categories. The 311Somerville app is available from iTunes at or Google Play at  


The app determines whether the problem is in the purview of the Department of Public Works or Animal Control, for instance, and “it goes right through,” said Steve Craig, Director of Constituent Services. Under the previous system, 311 employees had to copy requests and then direct them to the responsible department. The new app “eliminates the middleman,” Craig said. Requests now go directly to city employees’ iPads, so “things are getting completed quicker.”


The aim of the Waste Wizard, developed by ReCollect Systems of Vancouver, Canada, is to help residents better understand what gets recycled, what goes in the trash, and what is hazardous or special waste. If anyone stumps the Wizard, they can ask that an answer be added to it—and it will be.


“People are conscious nowadays about the environment but recycling can be confusing,” said Vithal Deshpande, the city’s environmental coordinator. “This is going to be helpful to people.”

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