Government Technology

Sacramento, Calif.'s 311 App Helps Create Well-Managed City

April 24, 2013 By

When Sacramento, Calif., implemented its 311 customer call center in 2008, it was a huge success. In fact, it was so popular that staff couldn’t handle the daily call volume, losing 100,000 calls a year to customer hang ups. 

Four years later, the city launched a mobile 311 app that is not only alleviating customer frustration with long wait times, but is also creating an entirely new mindset of how city-citizen interactions should work.  

“We continue to expand access to various tools, so citizens can self-serve,” said city IT Manager Maria MacGunigal. On the to-do list for expanded access are ad-ons like bicycle and neighborhood watch registration, checking the status of a ticket and text reminders for recycle days. 

And for city CIO Gary Cook, the more of these types of apps, or ability to communicate with the city, "I think the better chance we have of being the best managed city,” he said, adding that the impetus for change goes back to City Manager John Shirey, who was appointed by the mayor in 2011, and made it a personal goal to make Sacramento the most well-managed city in California.

Sacramento would become the most well-managed city, Cook said, by making technology a priority in transforming city government into a completely accessible place for citizens and the business community. 

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Ian Lucas    |    Commented April 29, 2013

Many local governments have fallen into the same trap as Sacramento did, by assuming that making it easy for the Public to "report", "request" and "suggest" would result in happy Constituents. If you don't have the "back-end" properly organized to deal with the torrent, you create big disappointment. It's good to see that Sacramento didn't give up and is doing a good job of learning from the early missteps. I expect that many more changes will come, including: 1. Consolidating the 3 Apps that must currently be downloaded, so that anyone from any browser can report, request, and suggest, without the need to download first. 2. That they can do so to ANY City Department, by expanding the available service options (this will further reduce their phone call load). 3. Seamlessly connecting to related Service providers such as the County, State, Utilities, Parks Commissions, Airports, and adjacent Local Governments, so that the Public can eliminate the frustration of having to always know exactly "Who Delivers What". 4. Establish consistent web links on many City website pages, each customized to the content of that page, so that each Department will learn what the Public is interested in, if it's not currently being provided, through Analytics. These are a few of my favorite things!

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