San Francisco is home to some of the world’s leading tech companies — Twitter, Uber and Salesforce to name a few — and they’re changing how we live, work and get around.
But tech has yet to solve one of the more vexing and messy problems that plagues San Francisco: the city’s poop-covered streets.
Sean Miller, a 24-year-old who recently moved to the city, hopes to put a dent in the dirty streets with an app he developed and released this week called “Snapcrap.” The app bills itself as “the fastest way to request street cleaning in SF.”
“It’s kind of funny, obviously,” Miller said in a phone interview, describing the state of San Francisco’s streets. “But it’s also a health crisis, and it’s disgusting seeing that stuff.”
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Beyond human waste, the city’s sidewalks are littered with used needles, trash and more. Even Mayor London Breed admits it’s a big problem, telling the San Francisco Chronicle she regularly asks the public works director: “What are we going to do about the poop?” A dedicated “Poop Patrol” is in the works to handle the 65 calls 311 gets daily reporting poop, according to the Chronicle.
The app is available for free in the iPhone app store. Its interface looks similar to Snapchat, with a camera filling the whole screen, which lets users snap a quick picture of the mess they spot on the streets and then submit the photo to 311 instantly with a pre-written message. App users can then visit the 311 ticket they submitted through Snapcrap, including the photo they took and the message they sent.
Miller said the app has advantages over using the SF 311 page directly.
“It’s really a speed thing,” Miller said. “Using the 311 app, just taking a picture takes five clicks. You have to add a comment. There’s a lot of friction for someone walking down the street in a nasty place. I want to take out my phone, take a photo and press send.”
Hoping to test the app on Wednesday afternoon, a McClatchy reporter ventured into the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood after downloading Snapcrap — and only had to walk about a block before discovering what appeared to be human feces, right in the middle of a sidewalk.
After snapping a picture of the offending pile near the corner of Schrader and Oak Streets, Snapcrap offered a few options in terms of an accompanying messages to send 311.
One message alludes to a frequent parlor game among those who walk the city’s streets: “Human or animal?”
Other messages are respectful and gracious.
“Thanks for cleaning! We appreciate you.”
Some messages are urgent.
“Please clean up this CRAP ASAP.”
And one is desperate.
“Help! I can’t hold my breath much longer.”
The app could have more new features soon, including a map.
“There are definitely some bugs I need to work out,” Miller said, adding that he wants to “do some optimization on the back-end to make submitting tickets faster.”
Though the app is currently only available in the Apple store, Miller said he’s working on an Android version.
Miller called the app a “side project” and said he spent about eight weeks building the app, but just during his free time and on the weekends.