Well, the first week of 311 in operation is over, and we can report that the system is working just as it should. Despite attempts by Vancouver's communications department to keep the good news secret, CityCaucus.com will continue to promote the program with Vancouver residents.
For the residents near Beach and Howe street facing a war zone in their neighbourhood due to Mayor Robertson's Feel the HEAT shelters, 311 has become a weapon in their fight against city hall. I've heard a number of residents have begun calling the 311 centre with their complaints and concerns regarding the HEAT shelter. If they want to reach the Mayor's office, they only need call 311 and presto...your connected.
The lack of communication from the communication department headed by Laurie Best has not stopped the media from taking an interest in 311. This week a number of media outets including 24 Hours, the Vancouver Sun and others tested out the system to rave reviews.
Any other council that wasn't so stubbornly ideological and fearful of making statements that might somehow give credit to the previous council, would have jumped all over this project by now. After all, this program is likely going to revolutionize the way Vancouver residents connect with their city hall - for the better.
Our CityCaucus.com research team contacted a well-known PR firm to ask them how much free publicity we generated through our various posts on the 311 program. They estimate that combined, all the positive media on 311 was worth about $33,750 to the City of Vancouver. This does not include any additional billings for lunch or snacks.
As a result, we have sent an invoice to the City today in the hope they are able to re-imburse us for the work we've done to promote 311.
What? We didn't have a previous contract for this work you say? Not to worry...we were only acting as a consultant and the PR community is really quite small in Vancouver. One need only look at what happened with eHealth Ontario to see that our invoice should get paid forthwith.
So there you have it. The first week of 311 is now behind us and the media coverage was very positive. Stay tuned for the "official" launch being organized by the communications department later this fall. This is a full 3 months after Vancouverites have been using the service. Better late than never.