"Before 311, people would be transferred to several different offices in order to speak to the right person. With 311, you don't have to know what department or what person you need, we'll find out for you and direct you as quickly as possible."
Riverside, Calif., residents can now dial just three digits -- 311 -- to reach the "one-call-does-it-all" center for non-emergency services and information.
Patterned after the famous 911 emergency three-digit predecessor, city officials recently cut 826-5311 down to 311 to make it easier for people to remember.
"This simplified dialing has been our goal ever since we started this call center," said Jerry Rogers, assistant general manager of Riverside Public Utilities. Rogers oversees the 311 call center operations for the city.
The 311 call center is staffed continuously from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekends. An answering service responds in the off hours and messages are returned the next day by the center. Requests for information and action can also be made online by clicking the 826-5311 icon at the bottom of each Web page.
The center was created three years ago as a centralized point of contact for Riverside's residents to call for city services or information. Since 2004, call center members have answered more than 250,000 non-emergency questions about a wide variety of city services, including graffiti removal, street repairs and even "What's going on at the park this weekend?"
The new 311 dialing works with landline telephones and most cellular telephone services for numbers issued within the City of Riverside, Rogers said. If dialing 311 from a cell phone does not work, residents may still reach the call center by calling 8the original number.
"Before 311, people would be transferred to several different offices in order to speak to the right person," Rogers said. "With 311, you don't have to know what department or what person you need, we'll find out for you and direct you as quickly as possible."
According to Rogers, graffiti removal requests are the most common calls that the center receives. The call center processes nearly 1,500 graffiti calls each month, each are typically cleaned up within 24 hours.