Government Technology

New York City Marks 50 Million Calls to 311



June 20, 2007 By

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) Commissioner Paul J. Cosgrave congratulated the 311 Customer Service Center today on taking its 50 millionth call since inception in March 2003. The call, which came in at 9:55 this morning, is the latest milestone for a call center -- the largest of its kind in the country -- that has transformed city government by dramatically improving the accessibility of city services. As the city's phone number for all non-emergency government information and services, 311 operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and provides language translation services in nearly 180 languages. 311 can also be accessed from anywhere in the world by dialing (212) NEW-YORK. The mayor and Commissioner Cosgrave were joined by LaNet Holman, the 311 Call Center representative who handled the 50 millionth call.

"In 2002, if you had a question about city government, you had to search through 11 pages of government listings in the phonebook," said Bloomberg. "Now, you can call one simple number: 311. And, if you live outside of New York, you can access the same service by calling 212-NEW-YORK. Today's 50-million-call milestone is proof that the service is working for New Yorkers and a testament to all of our 311 Call Center representatives' hard work."

"We are often the first contact many people have with city government, a distinction and responsibility of which we're most mindful," said Jane Brennan, executive director of 311 and NYC.gov. "Of the many reasons for our success, the most important is this: we have never gauged 311 simply by the services provided, but by how well it provides them. And we have never stopped working to expand our services through the use of innovative new tools. Thanks is due not only to our Call Center representatives, but to the entire 311 staff and our agency partners citywide, all of whom have helped make 311 what it is today."

First announced by Mayor Bloomberg in his 2002 State of the City Address, 311 consolidated more than 40 separate call centers and hotlines-and 11 pages of government listings in the phone book. Today, the approximately 400 Call Center representatives answer more than 40,000 calls daily, with an average wait of just five seconds. From a first-year total of 4.5 million calls, the volume of calls grew to 10.7 million in 2004 and 14 million in 2005 (including a single-day record of 241,000 calls during the December 2005 transit strike). In 2006, 311 received another 13.5 million calls. Since the start of 2007 alone, 311 has serviced over 7.2 million calls -- 97 percent of which have been answered in 30 seconds or less. The call center has become a model for non-emergency numbers around the world. Germany, Denmark, the United Kingdom and San Francisco have all established

In the coming year, 311 will begin providing an added choice to New Yorkers by allowing customers to manage their interactions with 311 on the web via NYC.gov. Ultimately, the goal is to offer a fully-complementary approach, with access to city services and information across both channels. Among the applications in the development stage are ones that will allow New Yorkers to text images and video from their personal mobile devices to 311, as laid out by the Mayor in his 2007 State of the City Address.

Due to its robust call-taking capacity, 311 has also enabled city agencies to launch several large-scale initiatives. 311 partnered with the Department of Consumer Affairs to facilitate the city's 2007 Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) campaign. New Yorkers were encouraged to call 311 to learn about the EITC, as well as eligibility requirements for the program, information about free tax filing locations citywide, and to request literature in 11 different languages. Also this year, for the first time, the Department of Finance mailed completed tax forms to approximately 95,000 EITC-eligible New Yorkers who filed returns in tax years 2003 and 2004, but did not claim the EITC. As a result, in what was the most successful campaign to date, 311 handled more than 38,000 EITC-related calls during the 2007 tax season.

The 311 Customer Service Center is administered by DoITT, the technology agency for the city of New York. DoITT works to transform the way the city interacts with its residents, businesses, visitors, and employees by leveraging technology to improve services and increase transparency, accountability and accessibility across all agencies.


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