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3-1-1 To Get Partly Disconnected

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In every budget, there is give and take, there are sacrifices and there are unintended consequences. When you add 100 more police officers or 20 new traffic control officers at bad intersections, something has to go. In the case of this year's city budget proposal from the mayor, the tree trimming cycle goes to 10 years (it really should be 3-5 and is currently at 8) and 3-1-1's graveyard shift go R.I.P. But more devastating is the cut of the development of 3-1-1's Citywide Service Request System, known as Phase II of the 3-1-1/E-Government Services Project.

Imagine a world such as this:

Phase II in particular is a critical next step in providing improved service to the public and better information for the City's elected officials and department heads to manage City resources more efficiently. The Citywide Service Request System (CSRS), when fully implemented, will enable anyone to simply call 3-1-1 to request any City service (pothole repair, bulky item pickup, street light out, etc). The 3-1-1 Call Center agents will be able to enter the service request into a centralized computer system, which will automatically route the service request to the appropriate department. Departments will have pre-set deadlines for responding to various types of service requests. Departments will schedule the work in CSRS and, after the work is completed, will log the completion date and time into CSRS.

The CSRS will allow anyone to submit requests over the Internet. People who have requested a service will be able to check the status of their service request. They can also call 3-1-1 to find out the status. Elected officials will be able to see all the service requests made in their district or anywhere in the City and can easily track the status on behalf of their constituents. Department heads will have a timely, effective tool for monitoring service requests to ensure that staff and equipment are scheduled appropriately to meet the deadlines. (Bill Fujioka, 04/20/05)
Without a system like this, the city is as good as a bunch of chickens running around with their heads chopped off. Each department has their own way of taking service requests, but the system as a whole is broken. With the new system, the city can be more efficient and fiscally lean in the long-term.
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3-1-1's evolution to Phase II is critical to constituent services. Without it, the citizens are left in the dark.

Photo by brykmantra via Flickr.