Non-emergency constituent phone service (also known as “311”) is a growing nationwide trend among municipalities looking to provide more efficient services and improve communications with their citizens. According to an ICMA report, about 15% already use such a system, and another quarter are considering one. As an example of 311’s effectiveness, 43% of local governments reported a significant decrease in non-emergency 911 calls following implementation of a centralized customer service system.
In Massachusetts, 311 is just starting to gain popularity. It currently exists in at least five places (i.e., the cities of Somerville, Springfield, Boston and Worcester; and Dukes County), and there numerous others considering it.
The following provides a very brief overview of this service in the Commonwealth, as well as country-wide information from ICMA studies (International City/County Management Association) on the matter.
Edward J. Collins, Jr. Center for Public Management, University of Massachusetts Boston, "Operational Services Brief: 311 in Massachusetts" (2008). Edward J. Collins Center for Public Management Publications. Paper 10.