It’s amazing how sometimes one great idea leads to another.
In 2001, the City of Austin attempted to curb the number of non emergency calls to 9-1-1. It designated 3-1-1 as a non-emergency alternative to police services, thereby freeing up the emergency line for, well, emergencies. If your cat was stuck in a tree or the neighborhood kids were egging your house, 3-1-1 was the number to call.
It was two years later that the city had the idea of tying all city services to the 3-1-1 number. Everything from reporting potholes to contesting a parking ticket to contacting animal control could all be done by calling one single number. Since then, the Citywide Information Center reaches over 1 million calls a year while giving Austinites a way to help make their city a better place.
Recently, the CIC has made reporting incidents and requesting information even easier with the debut of the Austin 3-1-1 Smartphone App. Designed for use with both Android and iOS devices, it uses GPS technology to make it easy for Austin citizens to submit requests for service around the city. Is someone blaring loud music at 3am in your parking lot? Did someone steal a stop sign in your neighborhood? Did you find a lost dog? All of these can be reported and routed to the proper agency in a matter of seconds, all without having to talk on the phone.
For more details on the Austin 311 App, including where to download it and what services it offers, check out the overview page here. Non-smartphone users can still dial 3-1-1 for the same services as always.
Cover photo by Flickr user opensource.com, creative commons licensed