311 Case Data - FAQ

Note, the 311 case data will be changed on April 19th, 2017 as a result of feedback and general improvements. Download the full notice to read more about the changes.

311 case data is one of the most used datasets on the open data portal. While the fields are fairly straightforward, we get a lot of other questions about the data itself. Below are some commonly asked questions to help you in your exploration of the 311 data.

What is 311 and what's in the case data?

The City and County of San Francisco established SF311 to provide an easy-to-remember telephone number that connects residents, businesses, and visitors to Customer Service Representatives ready to help with general government information and services in 2007. SF311 started taking web requests in 2008, social media in 2009, and mobile requests in 2010 from apps that connect to the open311 API. Departments can also use the 311 system to report inter-agency issues.

The case data represents each case submitted via one of the many SF311 channels mentioned above and the general characteristics and disposition of the case. SF311 case data is provided as is and without warranty, but works with its departmental partners to continuously improve business processes and data quality.

How often is the data refreshed?

Data is refreshed every morning at approximately 10am. In the event of a publishing failure, the system is configured to catch up on the subsequent day.

Why don’t all the cases have a Latitude and Longitude for mapping?

Sometimes cases occur at a location without a valid street address. These cases are forwarded to the departments with a description of the location instead of a verified street address.

Why is the text or photo I submitted through the app not available in the dataset?

SF311 is committed to protecting individual privacy rights, and may choose to retract pictures related to some classes of cases where publishing personally identifying photos would infringe on these rights.  As such, SF311 tries to anonymize all the data published to the open data portal by publishing the Category, Request Type, and Request Details of all requests, which provides transparency on the volume of cases and what is being reported. We're unable to automatically verify that personal information is not included in the description, so the description is not published.

What do the different columns represent?

Each column has properties which are available by clicking the (i) in the column header. The properties include the data type as well as a definition of the columns. For example:
  • Status Notes - Explanation of why status was changed to current state or more details on current status than conveyed with status alone
  • Responsible Agency - The agency responsible for fulfilling or otherwise addressing the service request.

Why is the category of my request different than I see on the web or mobile?

The categories on the web and mobile application are intended to be clear options to the public, but they do not necessarily map to a form (Category in the open dataset) by the same name. Some categories, such as ‘Neglected Building (Blight)’ are recorded on the General Request form. Graffiti and Litter requests map to multiple forms.

Why are there strange spikes in the data?

SF311 service requests are entered by customer service representatives on behalf of customers, by customers themselves, or by departments as a result of work they are performing. For this reason, the data is subject to spiking based on interest by an individual or organization related to a process, or by a department performing or publishing additional work in an area.

Can I see this data in my neighborhood?

Yes, check out the 311 explorer to view cases in your neighborhood.
 

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