The SCOUT Team: NYC’s New Street Cleaning Crew

The SCOUT team will soon be deployed to a street near you. Today, Mayor Bloomberg announced the creation of the

The SCOUT team will soon be deployed to a street near you.

Today, Mayor Bloomberg announced the creation of the Street Conditions Observation Unit (SCOUT), a group of inspectors “whose mission is to drive every City street once per month and report conditions that negatively impact quality of life,” a press release stated.

Quite frankly, the team’s job sounds pretty fun.

They will use GPS devices to report unacceptable street conditions, and when fully operational, will cruise the streets on three-wheeled scooters. Sweet.

The full release below.





SCOUT Inspectors with GPS-Enabled Handheld Devices Will Travel Every Street Citywide Once per Month

Sanitation Sets New Street Cleanliness Record as 94.3% of Streets Are Rated “Acceptably Clean”

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today launched the Street Conditions Observation Unit (SCOUT), a new team of inspectors in the Mayor’s Office of Operations whose mission is to drive every City street once per month and report conditions that negatively impact quality of life to 311. Reports transmitted from the SCOUT inspectors’ hand-held devices will enter the 311 system and be routed to the relevant agency for appropriate corrective action – just as when a New Yorker calls 311. The goal of the SCOUT program is to improve of street level quality of life in City neighborhoods and to further the responsiveness of City government to quality of life conditions. The SCOUT program will be administered by the Mayor’s Office of Operations, which also administers the City’s Scorecard rating system that recently gave the City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) its highest ever rating for streets that are “acceptably clean,” 94.3%. At the announcement, held at the Heckscher Playground in Brooklyn, the Mayor also welcomed a donation of paint to the Mayor’s Paint Program from Benjamin Moore Paints.


“This new team, equipped with GPS technology, will bring an extra set of eyes to our City streets,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Whenever I’m driving through the City and I see a pothole or garbage on the street, I’ll pick up the phone and report the problem to 311, just like thousands of citizens do every day. Now we’ll deploy a team of veteran city workers to do the same, armed with new technology and their knowledge of quality of life concerns in our City.”

SCOUT Inspectors, who will work under the Mayor’s Office of Operations, will use GPS-enabled hand-held devices specially programmed to report the conditions they observe. When the SCOUT team is fully operational, 15 inspectors will drive three-wheeled scooters and travel every City street once per month. The same off-the-shelf software used by large corporations will take the reports transmitted from the hand-held devices and enter them into the 311 system as if the relevant information had just been taken from a 311 Call Center Representative. For SCOUT Inspector reports, information on who made the complaint will remain anonymous.


“The SCOUT program will give the Mayor’s Office an opportunity to see first-hand the quality-of-life conditions that impact every neighborhood in the City,” said Mayor’s Office of Operations Director Jeff Kay. “With SCOUT inspectors in the field, we can provide City agencies with a real-time snapshot of those conditions, and ensure they take appropriate action.”


“The 311 Customer Service Center has set the standard for call centers across the country and world, and through the SCOUT program we’ll continue to raise the bar,” said DoITT Commissioner Paul Cosgrave. “The latest in a host of technology initiatives aimed at bettering the lives of New Yorkers, SCOUT promises to further the transparency, accountability and accessibility of City government—and we’re proud to assist in attaining that ideal.”

The SCOUT Inspectors will observe and report to 311 conditions including litter or debris on the sidewalk; illegal dumping; overflowing litter baskets; street potholes; graffiti on buildings; missing traffic signs; dangling, or fallen over traffic signs; open fire hydrants; fallen over newspaper boxes; parks property damage; bus shelters damaged; and sidewalk shed ads. These conditions will be reported to the appropriate agency for corrective action, including the Mayor’s Community Assistance Unit, Department of Sanitation, Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Buildings and the Department of Parks and Recreation.

The first SCOUT teams began their inspection of streets on August 6th, and when the program is fully operational it is expected that the SCOUT Inspectors will generate between 1,000 and 3,000 reports per day, compared to 311’s current total of approximately 7,000 service requests per day. The Mayor’s Office of Operations will retain a record of all calls entered into the 311 system and the SCOUT program will include inspections to see that the necessary work has been carried out. The Mayor thanked Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler, Mayor’s Office of Operations Director Jeff Kay and DoITT Commissioner Paul Cosgrave for their work on this project.

  The SCOUT Team: NYC’s New Street Cleaning Crew