Open City

Gavel for Android

By Anton Lodder
Published February 27, 2013

A few weeks ago, RTH associate editor Adrian Duyzer released Gavel, an iOS/web based app for submitting complaints about bylaw violations to the City of Hamilton.

Today I released an Android version of Gavel, which you can download from the Google Play store.

Gavel for Android screenshot
Gavel for Android screenshot

The app works in much the same way as the City of Hamilton bylaw complaint form, but is optimized for Android (smartphones and/or tablets) and remembers your contact information, making it easier and quicker to lodge a complaint.

The app is also open source, and you can view the source code on github.

Please let me know if you have any issues or find any bugs. I will try to fix them as soon as possible.

Anton Lodder is a Masters Student in Electrical Engineering at University of Toronto. He previously worked at McMaster University in Hamilton.

14 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By ViennaCafe (registered) | Posted February 27, 2013 at 21:37:00

Moving from a culture of fear to a culture of retribution?

Permalink | Context

By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted February 28, 2013 at 10:21:11 in reply to Comment 86874

I get what you are saying, but realistically the 'culture of retribution' is propagated by bad neighbours, not by complaints to the city. A 'culture of retribution' would be when neighbours vindictively abuse our bylaw system to spite each other - the problem is not the complaint system, its just a matter of neighbours treating each other poorly.

If we really believe that our bylaws are legitimate and should be enforced, then having them reported on a complaint basis is actually a great implementation - you don't have to pay someone to patrol and look for them, and only violations which are actually bothering/affecting other people get reported, which emphasizes the spirit of the bylaw over the letter of the bylaw. Some bylaws need to be enforced universally (e.g. parking on major streets), whereas others don't need to be enforced unless there are problems (e.g. if someone is making construction noise but no-one is bothered by it, what is the point of enforcing the bylaw in that instance?).

Permalink | Context

By highwater (registered) | Posted February 28, 2013 at 10:42:21 in reply to Comment 86890

I get what you are saying, but realistically the 'culture of retribution' is propagated by bad neighbours

It can also be propagated by bad laws, but if that's the problem then lets go after that instead of shooting the messenger.

If we really believe that our bylaws are legitimate and should be enforced, then having them reported on a complaint basis is actually a great implementation

Exactly. As a Westdaler, it always kills me when I hear the argument that reporting noise/property standards/parking bylaw infractions is somehow victimizing the students. If the complaint has no merit, it will be dismissed by the bylaw officers. If it does, why criticize the person who reported it?

I'll never understand the disconcertingly widespread belief that attending a post-secondary institution somehow grants you dispensation from obeying the same laws as the rest of us. I haven't noticed a similar dispensation being granted to our less privileged youth.

Comment edited by highwater on 2013-02-28 10:54:55

Permalink | Context

By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted February 28, 2013 at 14:19:41 in reply to Comment 86893

Yes, I suppose bad laws could be just as big a problem - but like you said, if that is the case its a different discussion. If we have bad laws, we should replace them with good ones rather than putting up barriers to enforcing them.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 28, 2013 at 09:32:13 in reply to Comment 86874

Well played. Unfortunately, the reality today is that bylaw enforcement is complaint driven (with a couple of exceptions, like parking meter violations). If no one alerts the city about unshoveled sidewalks, neglected buildings, idling cars and so on, the city won't do anything about them.

Permalink | Context

By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted February 27, 2013 at 22:32:24 in reply to Comment 86874

If we are talking keeping the sidewalks clear of ice and snow for strollers, elderly, and those who use mobility equipment or need a clear sidewalk in order to use a white cane to "shoreline" effectively, then I say bring on the bylaw-infraction reporting!

Permalink | Context

By highwater (registered) | Posted February 28, 2013 at 08:13:31 in reply to Comment 86880

If there is a silver lining to unshoveled sidewalks in Westdale, it's that all the sidewalk cyclists have suddenly mastered the ability to ride on the road. It's amazing really.

Permalink | Context

By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted February 28, 2013 at 22:05:20 in reply to Comment 86884

Yes, that's one upside, for sure- sidewalk cyclists are their own special category of accessibility impediments.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 01, 2013 at 06:03:30 in reply to Comment 86919

Sidewalk cyclists are an unfortunate tier in what can best be described as an accessibility cascade.

Permalink | Context

By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted February 28, 2013 at 07:14:53 in reply to Comment 86880

You got that wright Michelle , how many time this winter i saw some blocks of sidewalks not cleared

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted February 28, 2013 at 09:51:14

Very true but i don`t bike durring winter , the roads are to narrow and dangerous

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted February 28, 2013 at 10:38:03

Awesome. An App for Blackberry please. :)I would if I knew how.

Permalink | Context

By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted February 28, 2013 at 14:22:52 in reply to Comment 86892

Theoretically Blackberry is able to run Android apps, although I don't know that older (pre BB10) phones are capable of it. If this document is any indication it should be straightforward. I will look into it...

Comment edited by AnjoMan on 2013-02-28 14:23:04

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By adrian (registered) | Posted February 28, 2013 at 16:12:12

Great app, Anton - I'm thrilled that you built this for all the Android users out there!

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools

Feeds