At last, local governments are figuring out how to use smart phone applications for their own good. San Francisco has released a free EcoFinder iPhone app to help residents recycle and dispose of unwanted materials. The location-based app, produced by Haku Wale, uses San Francisco’s XML data feed to guide residents towards drop-off points for items like mercury-filled compact fluorescent bulbs, gas tanks, printer cartridges, and furniture. Info used in the EcoFinder app will also go into Earth911‘s national recycling database. Until now, information available from the EcoFinder app could only be found on SFEnvironment‘s Web site.
It’s an appropriate app for San Francisco, which just last week announced the country’s most comprehensive mandatory recycling and composting laws. When the laws go into effect this fall, a failure to separate out trash, composting, and recycling could lead to fines of up to $500.
This isn’t the first time that San Francisco has leveraged the power of Web 2.0 for government programs. City residents can contact the city’s 311 call center on Twitter to report graffiti and potholes or request information about city services. It’s an active account–@SF311 has tweeted 80 times since its inception at the beginning of June.