New York City, Calgary, Rochester and Winnipeg all have a successful 311 program
As many of you are aware, the City of Vancouver will be rolling out the welcome mat for the 311 program very soon. Don't expect an official notice from the City's communication department headed by Laurie Best any time soon. They've chosen not to communicate as part of their overall communications strategy...go figure.
In Winnipeg, they've had the 311 system in place now for a while and like other cities who've implemented it, the program is being used in a very innovative way.
We previously wrote about how the Peg was battling rising water from the Red River. As a result, they were in dire need of thousands of volunteers to help fill sandbags to help protect vulnerable properties. That's where 311 came to the rescue by acting as a central call centre where citizens could register to become flood protection volunteers.
The Winnipeg Free Press reported that nearly 1000 volunteers recently came out to help fill sandbags and build dikes in neighbourhoods in or around the City. They've had so many volunteers, that last Sunday they were oversubscribed.
Since April 1, the City of Winnipeg’s 311 Contact Centre has received over 2,800 calls from Winnipeggers on flood fighting-related issues. Over 1,600 people have volunteered to assist at-risk property owners build sandbag dikes to protect from river flooding due to potential ice jams.
Needless to say, the 311 program has been extremely helpful to the City of Winnipeg during this most recent flood risk. It has served as a central repository of information for concerned citizens and helped to convey accurate information from the City government to its citizens. 311 also serves to significantly reduce the number of unnecessary calls to the emergency 911 line, thus freeing up the service for true emergencies.
The 311 program is estimated to cost $12.3 million dollars and will be paid for through internal efficiencies. Both Vision Vancouver and COPE voted against the 311 program in Vancouver which is expected to go live in about a couple of months.