Upon becoming town supervisor many years ago, one of the first policy decisions I made was to bring the 311 call system and performance management program to North Hempstead. At the time, a number of cities across the country had launched such a program beginning in Baltimore under then-mayor Martin O’Malley. No suburban governments had initiated a 311 system, however.
I was convinced that the challenges residents’ faced when trying to communicate with their local government whether to gather information, report a problem or make a suggestion was overwhelming and needlessly complicated. The 311 system changed that problem forever.
Over the course of several years, I transitioned each department, and ultimately all calls, to the town to go to our 311 system so that every call would be logged, documented, preserved for future follow-up by the caller, and resolved by town personnel.
The town would receive upwards of 200,000 calls per year on issues such as code violations, reporting litter, lost animals, tax questions, potholes, street lights, trees, Project Independence, concert locations/start times, storm information, utility outages, garbage pick up, recycling, etc.
The town would also utilize the data created from these calls to discern how long it takes to respond to various inquiries resulting in improved management practices and results.
The 311 system is still up and running today and North Hempstead remains the only town in Nassau County to use this system.
While serving as Deputy County Executive in Suffolk County, I introduced the 311 system to County Executive Steve Bellone and we launched a countywide 311 system as well.