When Hurricane Irma hit South Florida, a 40-year-old tree outside the home of Alex Castro’s parents didn’t survive. The toppled tree damaged a sidewalk near the Southwest Miami-Dade home, so Castro contacted 311 through the app to let the county know what happened.
He expected the repairs to take time, he said, “…since everyone was needing 311 services.”
But 311 kept closing each case he opened, sending him the same message.
“We were in a private neighborhood and that was something for the association to take care of,” he said the messages would say.
But the house is not in a private neighborhood with an home owner’s association. It’s right next to a wall enclosing the private community next to it.
“It’s very frustrating,” he said.
After getting nowhere on his own, Alex called NBC 6 Responds.
“I said, let me give it a shot and you guys did respond,” he said.
Our team took his concerns to the county and Liz Silva, the division director for the 311 center.
“There are many streets that are privately maintained,” she said.
But she acknowledged the home was not properly mapped on the county’s GIS or Geographical Information System, adding that the issue is rare.
“We probably do 2 or 3 a month and that’s why a lot of times, it’s the customer alerting us that something doesn’t seem right in our information,” Silva said. “And then with a little more research we can get it fixed within a few weeks.”
The county told NBC 6 Responds they have revised the map for Alex’s parents’ home, but Alex said the issue with 311 wasn’t the only mapping problem he had.
“What we really have issues with is with deliveries,” he said.
He said he received a photo confirming a recent delivery. But the picture showed the package wasn’t on his parent’s front steps – it had been delivered to a home with a different street number on the other side of the wall.
“It’s something that happens from time to time,” Castro said, adding that even an ambulance arrived on the wrong side of the wall when his father had a heart emergency a few years back.
“We saw fire rescue trucks come from the neighborhood next door,” he said. “We flagged them down since we noticed they came to the wrong neighborhood.”
His dad is fine, but he is worried the next time there’s an emergency – and he hopes the problem is fixed for good.
As for the sidewalk repair, the county said in an email, “Due to the contract process and extensive amount of damaged sites throughout the County, an estimated repair date cannot be currently provided. The Public Works Construction Division advises that the contracts are currently in the bidding process. Possible timeframe to complete work may extend between 12 and 18 months.”
If you think you have a mapping issue involving emergency or county services in Miami-Dade County, dial 311 and ask the operator to check your address to see if it is properly classified. If you’re on a public road, you’ll want to make sure it’s listed accordingly.
If you’re having issues with package deliveries or people finding your home through GPS apps, you need to report the problem to each particular company. For example, Waze says “There’s a great solution for this – the Wazer just has to mark it on the map! That information feeds into the map” and “the maps are edited in real-time based on crowdsourced user feedback.”
To correct errors on other popular services like Google Maps, visit this website, where you can find links to each of the sites to report potential GPS errors.