News and Commentary

San Francisco Now Has A ‘SnapCrap’ App To Help Residents Report Poop On Public Walkways

There’s a new, free application San Francisco residents can use to report fecal matter left on public sidewalks to the city’s public works department: SnapCrap.

Created by a tech-savvy resident, SnapCrap allows users to take photos of errant feces and send those photos to city management using the city’s 311 information hotline — which also serves as San Francisco’s official poop-reporting phone number.

The creator, Sean Miller, told NBC’s local affiliate that he was “inspired” to launch the poop-reporting system after moving to San Francisco and finding himself forced to step over human waste lying in the middle of city sidewalks, a phenomenon he hadn’t experienced in his home state of Vermont.

San Francisco approves of the app. One city manager told NBC that “any way people want to report concerns and service requests to us … that’s great,” though city officials stress that they are trying to get ahead of the problem, and that incidents in need of immediate attention should be directed to the city’s 311 hotline, which dispatches the city’s so-called “Poop Patrol.”

SnapCrap isn’t the only e-tool available to San Francisco residents looking to warn their neighbors and their local government of local piles of poop. There’s also the “San Francisco Poop Map” and a fecal matter “heat map” created by a local realty service, both of which use information provided by the city’s 311 service to map out areas of the city where poop is a prominent feature.

SnapCrap differs in that it lets users report the feces directly and creates a “ticket” for users to check so that they can see if the city received their complaint and whether there’s a timeline for pickup. Miller says he’s working with the city to make the app more efficient and to roll out versions for phones that don’t run on Apple’s iOs and for people who don’t want to have to log into Facebook and share their private information with app developers just so that they can report human waste.

So far, the app has 3 stars out of 5 on the app store. “Last week, had to throw out my shoes from stepping on poop on the sidewalk,” one reviewer wrote. “Having an easy way to inform the city where they need to clean up is the first step to mitigating this problem.”

San Francisco’s poop problem is not new, though the city’s experienced something of an explosion in reports over the past several months. City officials estimate they get 1,300 complaints of sidewalk poop per month (though they say only a small percentage of that is human) and the problem has gotten so bad that San Francisco is shelling out millions on a “poop patrol” that just handles sidewalk feces.

One hundred and forty custodians, who patrol the Bay Area Rapid Transportation system (BART), are also being trained in new techniques that will help them better isolate and clean bio-hazardous waste.

The city has blamed the problem on a boom in the homeless population, but the number of homeless residing on San Francisco’s streets has remained largely stagnant since 2012. Instead, it seems, San Francisco is suffering from policies that won’t allow city workers to evict homeless encampments or move sidewalk sleepers. The city’s mayor says she’s committed to helping find more permanent housing for homeless individuals in an effort to clear out “tent cities,” but it’s not clear that will alleviate the human waste problem.