Not so long ago, San Francisco’s Franklin Square was a good place to avoid. Playground sand was a dumping ground for used condoms and hypodermic needles. Fed up with what officials politely described as an “underperforming park,” neighbors got organized. They used an interactive Web tool called ParkScan to pinpoint infractions on a satellite map, add text descriptions of the problem, and upload photos of trash or vandalism. Their data-gathering campaign helped convince the city to invest in...
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