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NSF Grant Funds iSchool Study of 311 Use During Crises

By Maryland Today Staff

A University of Maryland researcher is collaborating with George Mason University and the regional planning organization Connected DMV to understand how area residents use 311—a number to reach non-emergency municipal services—to help local governments improve service during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team, which includes Susan Winter, associate dean for research in the College of Information Studies, UMD's iSchool, will conduct roundtables with municipalities throughout the region to understand their civic technology policies and how they shape technology use during crises.

By creating a unified 311 database of currently disparate call data from various municipalities as well as web-based data visualization tools, the project will help governments improve the effectiveness of civic technology, service quality and regional resilience during crises. The work, led by iSchool graduate Myeong Lee M.I.M. '14, Ph.D. '19 of GMU’s Department of Information Sciences and Technology, is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation through the Civic Innovation Challenge program.

The team will use the research to educate undergraduate and graduate students about data science and its social implications, with an emphasis on improving the participation and representation of marginalized communities in civic technologies such as 311 systems.

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