News : City 311 Service Centre Takes 1.6 Million Calls in 10 Years
Windsor, Ontario, Canada, Aug 28, 2015 -- Identifying pothole-ridden streets or flood-prone neighbourhoods has been much easier with data collected through the city’s service centre, say staff members celebrating the program’s 10-year anniversary.
The complaint-driven 311 service centre has taken 1.6 million calls since the office opened in 2005 from people dealing with garbage collection, poor roads, building conditions and noise.
Calls in the past decade have led to 382,000 service requests, which indicates concerns are being dealt with promptly and more efficiently than before, explained call centre manager Alena Sleziak.
But one of the most important components of the program is the ability to analyze call data, which often results in proactive work to tackle persistent problems.
"The data collection is really one of the key features of a 311 system in any community," Sleziak said. "It allows us to do some analytics with that data to get it back to the departments so they know what volume of work is coming in. They can see any trends and then they can address those things."
Complaints for property standards issues led to the largest number of service calls, according to centre statistics. In 10 years, the bylaw enforcement office has dealt with more than 89,000 service calls, compared to the environmental services department, which dealt with more then 76,800 calls for issues around garbage, recycling and yard waste.
Public works had 42,000 service calls for issues with roads, potholes, sidewalks and sewers.
Analyzing call data helped the city target problem areas for flooding in recent years, explained city engineer Mark Winterton.
Large numbers of reports from one street, or in larger clusters usually indicates there could be a problem with the city’s infrastructure, while isolated reports likely illustrate a problem with the home.
"That’s a great indicator to us of what type of a problem it is and how we can focus our investigation," he said.
Data analysis can easily identify problem areas for flooding and other types of complaints. The Star has used data sets to pinpoint some of the most rundown rental properties in the city and identify some of the city’s worst road conditions.
Thursday’s celebration of the service centre program ended quickly after a brief scare when Mayor Drew Dilkens suffered a dizzy spell during his speech and nearly fell to the floor. He was reported to be OK just a few hours later.
Before being taken to hospital, Dilkens boasted about the Windsor program, which was the first of its kind in Ontario and the second across the country.
"There was no road map for this project in 2005 and, although it was available in a handful of cities in the United States, 311 was essentially unheard of in Canada," he said.
The service averages about 500 calls a day, but the numbers can spike to about 1,000 on peak days, Sleziak explained.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Monday, August 31, 2015
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