The City of Houston recently launched its revamped 3-1-1 service system.
The 3-1-1 Houston Service Helpline is a city government call center where area residents can request information on city services and report non-emergency issues like traffic fines, sewer concerns, pothole problems and neighborhood complaints. Since the service launched in August 2001, its main component has been its three-digit phone number, accessible from within the Houston city limits. The 311 Call Center receives roughly 2.2 million contacts and receives 450,000 service requests annually, according to a release from the Mayor’s Office.
Now, the revamped system, which took about nine months to develop, offers residents new features and additional avenues by which they can report issues and request information. There are now three ways residents can create a service request: by smart phone app (Apple and Google), web portal via a virtual agent, and through the call center. In a release, officials said these added self-service capabilities will help reduce call volume and wait times.
“Not only will this reduce wait times for people who need to call 3-1-1 instead of creating a service request on our app or web portal, this investment and upgrade in our technology will prepare us for the next 20 years of demand,” said Tina Paez, Houston’s administrative and regulatory affairs director, in a statement.
The new system also consolidates repeat reports.
“The new system is another example of how Houston is building a Smart City of the future. This new 311 system has the potential to be the platform that connects all City departments and systems to each other ensuring a smooth and seamless experience for constituents,” said Turner.
While 3-1-1 is primarily used for everyday, non-emergency services, the helpline is often an important tool during emergency response, officials said in a release.
“During the Tax Day Flood, Hurricane Harvey, and Winter Storm Uri, the 311-web portal, app, and call centers were critical points of information gathering and distribute during those times of crisis,” the release reads. “With this system upgrade there will be an improvement to call center wait times and self-service capabilities during regular times, and an enhanced capability to be more responsive and minimize wait times during times of crisis.”