"Philadelphia PA - New database to track bandit signs opens up shop in Philadelphia"
Philly and other cities along the East Coast have been hit pretty hard with bandit signs, mainly by real estate scammers and junk car sellers.
Long ago coroplast signs only advertised things to sell and not so much on offer.
Now since the recession, it's all offers to buy something from you, give you a job, take that ugly house off your hands, etc.
In Philadelphia, City Code Title 10 Sec 10-1200 forbids signage in the public right of way, on trees, etc. Enforcement of 10-1200 is weak because it is too much work to gather intelligence about the signs, so the blight only increases astronomically and never gets better.
I have launched a "Central Intelligence Agency" for bandit signs in the city of Philadelphia. If you are in Philly or know someone in Philly who hates these signs, pass this URL along!
#1. "RE: Philadelphia PA - New database to track bandit signs opens up shop in Philadelphia" In response to Reply # 0
We have more teeth in our department here. The only thing that happens when the County gets aggresive with sign spammers, they buy and use pay-by-the-minute phones which are untracable for public posted signs. Before the crunch it was more effective for them to stake out a high volume intersection at night and call in the police.
The bandit spammers are shameless. The few times I could trace the business, the county was very happy to have the info. (Pain Clinics and granite/tile). However, the county is largely apathetic to the real estate WEDS signs.
Oh, there's a hint of cool in the air, and Winter is coming! I've got to gather more firewood... And Sign stakes make great fire starters!
#3. "RE: Philadelphia PA - New database to track bandit signs opens up shop in Philadelphia" In response to Reply # 2
>This is great! Good work! > >Be sure to optimize the site for SEO a bit on keyword phrases >like illegal signs in Philadelphia, etc. > >Are you working with CE to encourage them to visit the site? > >Also, it is important to remove database entries when the >signs are removed, otherwise the signal to noise ratio of the >database will be too low. > >Again, good work! > >DenverShark
Sorry it's taken so long to reply.
Yes my site is very SEO-friendly. Google, Bing and Yahoo are now indexing it daily and I've noticed that Bing is now checking it 2x a day since it's noticing the new data.
And I'm putting an "owner identified" badge whenever we trace a sign back down to a name or an exact physical address.
Also Monday morning I blasted a press release out to the local media here in Philly, every member of Philadelphia City Council, and the two departments of the city (Streets & Licenses and Inspections), and also the Philadelphia City Controller (the guy in charge of drumming up revenue to pay the City's bills).
Hours after I sent out the press release the # of visits skyrocketed.
My local neighborhood (zipcode 19125) the word has really caught on b/c people know me here. My zip is nearly bandit-free, but that's only during large block cleanups when there's enough litter collected that attention can be turned upwards towards the signs. In other areas (especially zip 19149) the problem is extremely pernicious. I've seen a block cleanup with nearly 100 volunteers, hundreds of blocks get entirely clean and free of signage, then within a month you have whole streets plastered again. We've even caught people in the act of putting them up and gotten tags off their cars.
4 civic associations in Philly have moved this quality of life issue to their top 5 and one civic has made it their No 2 issue, which says a lot. Mostly the impetus is the WE BUY HOUSES signs which reinforce in people's minds that a neighborhood is blighted (or it's gonna get that way) with the quick sale signs up everywhere.
#4. "RE: Philadelphia PA - New database to track bandit signs opens up shop in Philadelphia" In response to Reply # 2
I had to think very hard for months on how to set up the database because some signs have phone numbers, some don't, signs come down, signs go up, many people might complain about the same sign... it's a mess to take in the reports and organize them.
I split it into two complaint forms: one with a phone number and one without (mostly for wheatpaste and political signs).
If they can't give me a phone number right away, I send them to the non-phone report. They fill out an "interview" that offers them a chance to tell me about the sign and to give me a photo if they got one of the sign. I strongly encourage people to send in pictures of them, because that helps out later.
Once they do that, I create a "sign report". No location info is on it, just the sign itself. Then they have to fill out a "location report" and tell me where the thing was, whether they took it down, what it is mounted on, etc (it's actually important because the laws have loopholes that make some mountings legal).
Now if someone else comes to my site and puts in the same phone number, instead of filling out the sign report I show them a list of signs with pictures that match the phone number. If they recognize the sign they click on the picture. If there is a match all they have to do is give me a location and move along. That makes it easy to put in hundreds of locations for the same sign all at once.
When they put in the location I also give them a Google Map and give them a chance to correct mistakes.
Once they save a location I use geocoding to get a GPS location and the full complete address and then a geocode of the closest cross street (i.e. 4rd St & Sassafras St). That eliminates a problem with the city's 3-1-1 system where they throw out tickets because the complainant didn't provide an exact location.
On top of that I am putting the finishing touches on an iPhone app and soon to start work on a Droid app for smart phones. Same process except it's sped up because now I don't need you to tell me where the sign is, I can get it off your phone's GPS when you take the picture.
Once the mobile apps are done I plan to go back to the media to ask them to run the story so people will download the apps on their phones. The people posting signs in the database right now are hardcore community volunteers and leaders. I'd like the mobile app in the hands of every pissed-off resident of Philadelphia where I get dozens, if not hundreds, of new records, daily.
Since the fines here are $75-$300 per sign, another site change I have planned soon is to put a "Jerry's Kids" telethon number counter on the website masthead that shows how much $$$$ in fines the City is not collecting. Since Philly is dancing with bankruptcy, that outta put a real stink in the Mayor's eye.