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Fenty Launches 311 Phone Number to Request City Services

Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Residents now need only two numbers: 311 for service, 911 for emergencies

(Washington, DC) Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Janice Quintana, director of the Office of Unified Communications, launched the new 311 phone number for government services from the Mayor’s Citywide Call Center today. Fenty was joined at the announcement by Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco who implemented 311 in San Francisco as the number for local government services. 311 will replace 727-1000 as the number to reach the Mayor’s Citywide Call Center. The change follows best practices of other major cities including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Miami. 

“311 and 911 are now the only two phone numbers any resident needs to know to get in touch with their government,” said Fenty. “24 hours a day, 365 days a year, District government is accessible to every resident by dialing just three digits.”

911 will remain as the number to call for all situations that require response from MPD or Fire EMS. The 311 number was previously used for police non-emergencies. By creating 311 as the number to reach the Mayor’s Citywide Call Center and sending all calls requiring public safety personnel response to 911 residents no longer have to worry whether their calls constitute an emergency. Residents can now use the Mayors’ Citywide Call Center to reach any agency in the government, request services such as trash pickup or smoke detector installation and connect directly to agency call centers such as the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). 

"San Francisco's 311 Customer Service Center has been a true milestone in government efficiency," said Mayor Newsom. "With well over one and a half million calls answered in over 75 languages, we have exceeded even our own expectations this past year. And we plan to integrate even more city services, providing residents with an easy and direct way to interact with their government."

On January 7, 2008, the Office of Unified Communications switched over to the new 311/911 system for testing. The transition has streamlined the process for answering calls by eliminating duplicate calls to the “non-emergency” and “emergency” lines from residents unsure of which number to use. The new two number systems also allowed for calls to be redirected automatically from 911 call takers to the Citywide Call Center lowering the volume of unnecessary 911 calls. Previous to the switch to two numbers, 911 operators answered both 911 and 311 calls. There is now an increased staff dedicated to handling 911 calls exclusively, allowing them to better prioritize calls as they come in. 

The new logo for 311 was designed by Brian Jackson, a senior at Duke Ellington High School. His logo will be incorporated into a public service campaign throughout the District to help alert and educate residents about the change. 727-1000 will roll into 311 while residents adjust to the change of phone number creating a seamless transition.