Nothing makes New Yorkers call 311 more than the Big Apple’s cacophonic symphony.
Noise complaints have topped requests to the service since its inception 12 years ago today with about 3.4 million calls, according to data released by the city. Landlord maintenance came in second for total complaints, followed by calls that requested updates on service requests and heat and hot water complaints.
Shaleem Thompson, 311’s communications director, said New Yorkers have come to expect her team to be ready to answer their concerns efficiently.
“It's great that 311 has become a staple for New Yorkers,” she said. “It is a testament to the work that our team does. We’re here for them.”
When Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched 311 in 2003, he wanted to have a one-stop call center that oversaw more than 40 city agencies, similar to other call centers made throughout the country. Last week, the service handled its 200 millionth call, which Mayor Bill de Blasio said was a testament to success.
“New Yorkers are thankful for the invaluable service 311 provides,” he said in a statement.
James Felipe, a call center operator since 2006, said he and his co-workers are trained to be ready and to field answers to any non-emergency situation that a New Yorker may face, from how to file a buildings complaint to the question of whether alternate side parking is suspended.
“It’s like finding a diamond in a landfill,” he said. “Individuals don’t know where to call and we are their guide.”
Last month, Caroline Kim Oh, 41, passed by a homeless man in midtown while on her way to work and was concerned that he would freeze in the cold. So, she dialed 311 for her first time to get him help.
The Westchester resident said she was relieved that she got to speak to someone quickly and that they followed up an hour later, informing her that the man was transported to a hospital.
“If people know how easy it is to help that person, they would all do it,” she said. “That’s why I told all of my friends on Facebook to use 311.”
Thompson said 311 has also been more active on social media and mobile devices, and has had success engaging New Yorkers on those platforms. She said the agency will continue to improve its digital outreach in the months to come.
City Councilman James Vacca, who chairs the tech committee, said he is impressed by 311’s evolution over the last dozen years.
“To me that is encouraging. The use of Twitter has been tremendous, the use of the app has been tremendous,” he said.