Calling 311 gives citizens an easy way to call in to report broken streetlights or graffiti or after-hours construction. It is used by many municipal governments in both the U.S. and Canada (see list below).
With 311 New Yorkers are helping to solve problems they see in neighborhoods
This week there was an interesting story in Wired Magazine about New York using its 311 call center to solve the source of a series of related complaints – the maple syrup mystery - read more here.
In New York, 311 now fields on average more than 50,000 calls a day, offering information about more than 3,600 topics: school closings, recycling rules, homeless shelters, park events, pothole repairs. The service has translators on call to handle some 180 different languages. (source: http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/11/ff_311_new_york/)
The image below shows how those calls are dispersed across a typical day in New York.
311 for smaller cities?
In Evanston, Illinois (population less than 100K), Aldermen are split over a proposed 311 city call center program that City Manager has proposed to handle citizens’ after-hours non-emergency calls. The Aldermen questioning the program wonder if the $783K is the best use of money in the wake of the budget’s call for cuts in service and programs in other areas. (source: http://www.pioneerlocal.com/evanston/news/2900974,evanston-311center-111810-s1.article)
Federal Grants help smaller cities launch 311 call centers
The Town of New Hempstead, NY (population also less than 100K) established its 311 call center in 2005 through a $500,000 federal grant. Today, the center averages 100,000 calls a year.
Municipalities using 311 call centers in US and Canada
According to Wikipedia, the following cities in the US and Canada have 311 call centers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3-1-1
311 is available in several major American cities, including: Akron • Albuquerque • Austin • Baltimore • Birmingham • Charlotte • Chattanooga • Chicago • Columbus, Ohio • Dallas • Denver • Detroit • Hartford • Houston • Kansas City, Missouri • Knoxville • Las Vegas • Laredo • Little Rock • Louisville • Los Angeles • Miami • Milwaukee • Minneapolis • Mobile • Nashville • New York City • Orlando • Pittsburgh • Philadelphia • Richmond, Virginia • Riverside, California • Rochester • Sacramento • San Antonio • San Francisco • San Jose • Somerville, Massachusetts • Springfield, Massachusetts • Tampa and Washington, D.C..
The service is available in the following communities:
- Calgary, Alberta (18 May 2005)
- Gatineau, Quebec (22 June 2005)
- Windsor, Ontario (22 August 2005)
- Ottawa, Ontario (19 September 2005)
- St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador (27 June 2006)
- Fort St. John, British Columbia (14 November 2006)
- Greater Sudbury, Ontario (12 February 2007)
- Laval, Quebec (3 October 2007)
- Montreal, Quebec (mid-December 2007)
- Halton Region, Ontario (18 March 2008)
- Edmonton, Alberta (16 December 2008)
- Winnipeg, Manitoba (16 January 2009)
- Vancouver, British Columbia
- Toronto, Ontario (24 September 2009)
- Peel Region, Ontario (5 October 2009)