311 Day is celebrated annually on March 11. While we do have a number for emergency services, what happens when we have a legitimate question but it does not fall under the emergency category? The 311 system is exactly for that and it helps residents report issues, find out about city services, and solve queries.
History of 311 Day
311 has evolved into a multi-channel service that connects citizens with the government. The proliferating technology now also provides a wealth of data that improve how cities are run. Baltimore was the first city to bring 311 into the works as a police non-emergency number in January 1999, followed by Chicago, which was quick to jump onto the bandwagon and initiate the first comprehensive 3-1-1 system providing information and tracking city services from intake to resolution.
In fact, the Chicago 3-1-1 has won numerous national awards, including the Innovations in American Government Award from the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 2003. Proving to be worth its mettle, it not only provided seamless delivery of city services to residents, but the call center also serves as a backup to the city’s 911 call center.
Today, the 311 system is available in most major cities and is moving to smaller towns across the United States. In 2020, seven Google.org Fellows worked with the City of San José. Google and San José along with Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland, and Santa Clara County, founded 311 Day. This was to increase awareness of the non-emergency number and honor the ‘first’ first responders who field these calls and assist people.
311 Day timeline
The 3-1-1 service commences in Baltimore, Maryland, for informational services.
The largest 3-1-1 operation operates in New York City.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission reserves the use of 3-1-1 for non-emergency municipal services throughout Canada
The first Canadian 3-1-1 service opens in Calgary, Alberta.
311 Day FAQs
What happens when you call 311?
When you call 311, a customer service representative will respond to your request. These trained professionals will send your complaint through the right channels.
What is the difference between 311 and 911?
It is important to remember that a call to 911 must be made only when there is an emergency and a call to 311 in a non-emergency situation that still requires intervention from relevant authorities.
What does a 311 call mean?
311 is essentially a citizens’ hotline that you can use as a simple way to report a problem or ask questions about your community.
How to Observe 311 Day
Find out if your city uses 311
First things first, figure out if your city has a 311 service number registered that one can use in non-crisis situations. You can probably get these details via the internet or local authorities.
Spread awareness about 311
If your city does use 311 as a non-emergency service, ensure you spread maximum awareness about it. Tell your friends and family. Use social media and use the hashtag #311Day. The more people know about this, the better.
Report a non-emergency service
If you are facing a non-crisis situation, then best use 311 to report it. It could be anything from a problem regarding structural disturbances in your neighborhood or care for nature.
5 Important Facts About 311 Services
Origin of calls
About one-third of all 311 calls in the U.S. originated from cell phones rather than landlines.
In the U.S., 311 was sometimes used as a fictitious area code in Bell System advertisements depicting telephones.
Usage in San Francisco
In San Francisco, 311 is the number for the city and county of San Francisco.
Cost of city services
The cost of city services in Baltimore has been reduced by the combination of 311 and CitiSta.
Locations like Panama, Puerto Rico, and Costa Rica have implemented nationwide 311 centers.
Why 311 Day is Important
It helps to save lives
When people use 311 for non-emergency services, it helps first responders of 911 focus on situations requiring urgent and critical care, from accidents to kidnappings to burglary or fires. In addition, it helps to divert the calls to 311, where qualified professionals can help solve non-crisis situations.
It ensures smooth functioning of cities
311 is used for non-emergency services that still are important for the smooth functioning of the place. People often cause havoc in a neighborhood, causing a nuisance; such an incident can be reported to 311 instead of 911.
It maintains law and order
311 helps to maintain law and order in cities. With people reporting unlawful non-emergency incidents, some professionals will ensure the requirement is met and solved.
311 Day dates