The Importance of Calling 311

Austin’s 311 service is more than the non-emergency equivalent to 911. It’s also a convenient, single point of contact for all City of Austin departments. If you have questions, complaints, or compliments (yes, those too!) about City of Austin services, call 311.

All 311 service requests are logged into a database and tracked. Over the years, this database, which is named Socrata, has become a treasure trove of data which is mined by City administrators when budgeting, looking for patterns (for example, graffiti popping up in a new area), and setting priorities (what area has the highest number of reported sidewalks needing repair near schools?).

The more consistently and persistently residents report service needs, the better Socrata’s data. This system puts the burden on us, the neighborhood residents, to tell the City where services are needed. I learned this during a discussion of traffic in our neighborhood. Although there were several complaints about increased traffic on Primrose, a City administrator said they’d only received one complaint via 311. Ouch.

The point I’m making here is, when it comes to City services, say something when you see something. Don’t assume someone else will do it. The goal isn’t to artificially inflate our neighborhood’s priority but rather to provide enough data to realistically portray what our neighborhood’s needs are.

You can download Austin’s 311 app and view data from Socrata at the Austin 311 webpage:

Posted by Sharon Justice, Chair,NSCNA Media Committee

The Importance of Calling 311