CLEVELAND — The city of Cleveland is looking to completely overhaul its 311 call center, and now they have the funding to try it.
City Council on Monday approved $4 million in spending to "reconstruct" 311, a number residents routinely call to request services for non-emergency matters such as potholes and or building code violations, among others. Officials say the proposed overhaul will make 311 "a one stop shop for all non-emergency City services."
"In this business, your best ability is your availability," Council President Blaine A. Griffin told 3News Tuesday, "and that's the reason I want to make sure that we have customer service-friendly tools from City Council to make sure that citizens feel like they can get answers and understand city services whenever they call."
Cleveland first launched its 311 system in 2009, but the tool has long been plagued by minimal staffing (just seven employees), outdated infrastructure, and shaky connections with city departments. Legislators as well as Mayor Justin M. Bibb are hoping to change that, and are looking to promote the service to a wider overall audience.
"We're going to see of how we can even improve it more," Griffin, who made a 311 call himself during our interview, said. "So, 50 seconds and answering a call, and making sure they deployed services out there — not bad service."
While the call center will remain in place, there will also be a new texting and online component — website, email, social media, etc. — as part of an expansion of ways for residents to submit service requests. The hope is the new software will allow leaders and departments to more easily track the progress of such requests and allow the city to respond in kind, while people will also be able to monitor their advancement through City Hall.
"Council will be able to better track complaints to make sure that, when we do put in complaints, that we can see there they're at in the process and if they were completed, or if they're still pending," Griffin noted.
Neither Council nor the mayor's office have indicated when work on the new 311 system might start, or when such a project could be completed. For now, citizens of Cleveland can still request services or information by simply dialing 311.
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