A Better Experience for Citizens in the US Capital

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Washington, D.C. is the capital of the US, the 20th most-populous city in the country with less than 1 million residents, but 20 million visitors each year. Local e-government innovation is alive and well, with a movement to make daily life easier, the streets cleaner, and citizens more generally content.

With an influx of commuters from the surrounding suburb each weekday, and security measures which are as extreme as any in the country, and possibly in the world, to defend against terrorist threats and attacks (Washington hosts 177 foreign embassies as well as the headquarters of many international organizations, trade unions, non-profit, lobbying groups, and professional associations, including the World Bank) the management of parked cars on the streets has taken on a new level of complexity, including a towing operation that may not be the most popular service provided by local government.


One innovation in place to help reduce parking issues is a personalized alert program sponsored by the DC Public Works group, built by Polka Dot Sky Software, a local Software-as-a-Service and application development company. Those who register can receive alerts when their vehicle is towed or booted, including information about how to liberate that vehicle.

This was implemented initially as an alerting program that you could sign up for online and then receive alerts via SMS or email; a mobile application is slated for release in late February.

“Even in tough situations, not having information makes everything worse.  DC is thinking about how residents and visitors experience being towed and offering a way to make that less stressful.  Coming out of a restaurant or your work and finding your car gone – that’s not something anyone wants to experience.  But getting an alert that tells you it’s just down the street, or the phone number for where you need to pick it up, can make that moment a lot better.” said Jessica Dravida, cofounder and CEO of Polka Dot Sky Software.

Polka Dot Sky Software puts the power local government into the hands of citizen by enabling agencies to rapidly improve citizen customer experience by delivering personalized, actionable information from multiple sources directly to their mobile device.   

DC Public Works is also currently using Polka Dot Sky Software’s SaaS solutions to deliver personalized residential service schedules and targeted scheduled and on-demand service reminders and alerts to its residents, for example days when street sweeping requires residents to move their cars (including notification when there’s no treet sweeping service due to a holiday).

Citizens can sign up to receive alerts and access personalized service schedules by visiting dpw.dc.gov and selecting Tow & Boot Electronic Alert Program in the top carousel.  Starting in mid-February of this year, the DC myDPW mobile app can be downloaded on the iTunes or Google Playstore, working on all current iOS and Android operating systems.

The company will be presenting a demo at the upcoming Smart City Works Demo Day, having been selected as a Fall 2018 cohort company. Smart City Works is a nonprofit business actuator and next generation business accelerator focused on infrastructure innovation and the built environment.

“We’ve been consistently impressed with Polka Dot Sky’s vision for e-government, and their ability to implement and expand solutions that make smart cities and regions more convenient and livable,” said Bob Mazer, Co-Founder of Smart City Works. “The applications to come will continue to have an impact locally and can be easily adopted as the company grows; it’s been an honor and pleasure to work with Jess and her team on ways to promote and fund the business for future scale.”

The event, which is being held Thursday, January 31, 2019 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM (EST) at the Virginia Tech Research Center, 900 North Glebe Road, in Arlington, VA, is free and open to the public and media.




Edited by Ken Briodagh
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