Houston’s new digital 311 system recently went live, making it easier for residents to file service requests and receive information from the city. The service allows area residents to request information on city services and report non-emergency issues such as traffic fines, sewer concerns, pothole problems, traffic signal maintenance, water leaks, and neighborhood complaints. Along with everyday, non-emergency services, the helpline is an important tool during emergency response – such as hurricanes or other disasters – for disseminating information.
The new platform – which the city developed with Microsoft – provides a virtual agent to aid with filing service requests online, rather than calling the city’s 311 call center. Historically, the call center handles more than 2 million calls and creates 450,000 service requests each year. It also improves on the old system by allowing city employees to reclassify cases – instead of closing and creating new cases – and reduces the number of duplicate cases. It is expected to streamline communication between agencies as they respond to service requests and provide information to the public.
“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.
Residents are able to access the system by smart phone app (Apple and Google), web portal via a virtual agent, and through the call center.
“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 Mayor Sylvester Turner.