New York City 311 system sees record use in 2014

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New York City’s 311 system handled more than 28 million customer contacts in 2014, setting a new city record as more residents used mobile computing devices to interact with city services.

The total is 16 percent higher than the previous record set in 2011 and can at least be partially contributed to a revamped 311 mobile app that the city launched in November that included new options for city residents to file complaints through their phone.

“311’s record achievement demonstrates that innovation and technology can enhance the government in ways that are far reaching and hit-home for millions of New Yorkers,” James Vacca, chair of the City Council Technology Committee, said in a statement. “The people of New York City expect their government to work efficiently, and 311 has become a powerful instrument in meeting that expectation. By helping residents smoothly navigate the vast web of city services, 311 is improving the quality of life for all New Yorkers.”

The 311 program is one that many large cities have created to help citizens. It serves as an information portal for city residents to interact with the government on a range of services from finding information about schools to filing complaints about hot water not working properly.

In recent years, cities have increased the number of services that citizens can request as online portals and mobile apps have become more robust. In cities like New York, with millions of residents, managing those requests and complaints can be incredibly difficult without the proper systems in place to handle them.

New York, for example, even allows residents to submit requests through Skype and social media, as well as via text messages.

“This unprecedented number of customer contacts is a testament to the extraordinary daily efforts of our 311 team to inform the public on all City matters and deliver essential services to New Yorkers in every neighborhood,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

New York has seen a clear growth path in the system since 2003 when there were slightly less than 5 million contacts made with the system that year. It took only two years for that number to grow to nearly 15 million contacts in 2005. The system reached nearly 25 million contacts in 2011 and then saw two consecutive years of decline before jumping up again this year to more than 28 million – thanks in part to the growth of mobile device use.

“NYC311 remains committed to meeting New Yorkers where they are and providing excellent customer service. This record growth of contacts is a testament of the trust New Yorkers have placed in 311 for providing city government information. It also speaks to the dedication of the women and men at 311 who strive to serve and help our customers every day,” said NYC311 Executive Director Joseph Morrisroe in a statement.

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