Philadelphians dial 3-1-1 for critters, potholes and abandoned homes

    In its first year, the city’s 311 call center received a total of 1.2 million calls from residents complaining about potholes, raccoons, broken light posts and abandoned houses. Mayor Michael Nutter says the center is a work in progress.

    Caption: The 311 Call Center in City Hall.
    Philadelphia’s 311 call center has been up and running for a full year.

    It was established to lessen the burden on the 911 call center by diverting routine calls to a single department.

    But did those expectations become a reality?

    Listen:
    [audio: 100105mp311.mp3]

    In its first year, the city’s 311 call center received a total of 1.2 million calls from residents complaining about potholes, raccoons, broken light posts and abandoned houses. Mayor Michael Nutter says the center is a work in progress.

    Mayor Nutter: It is a resounding success but we have much more work to do.

    Sandra Shea is an editor for City Howl – a website that allows residents to post comments about their interaction with city services. She says the feedback on 3-1-1 has been mostly positive… with one exception.

    Shea: It’s not round the clock and part of the problem is that… the problems that people find that they’re calling 311 about they don’t get discovered until they get home from work, so they have to wait ’til the next day.

    But Mayor Nutter’s next step is not to focus on office hours, but rather to invest in new technologies that speed up service.

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