How many of you have tried to find a listing for a local government service in the phone book? For municipalities across the nation, the introduction of 3-1-1 services has helped reduce that frustration over the past decade.
While calling local government has certainly become easier with 3-1-1 call centers, technology has taken local government service to a new level, providing Citizen-facing Mobile Applications to assist citizens in reporting everything from potholes in streets to illegally parked cars. In many cities, citizens can now report these issues directly from their smartphones and attach photos or images to assist local government in identifying the most effective response to address the concern.
The cities of Dallas and Austin in Texas are two examples of cities that have embraced this technology, and their residents are using the applications more and more and love the convenience of the mobile applications. These applications make it easy to report issues, and the local government also loves the apps because residents can provide photos to assist them in responding to the issue more effectively.
Austin resident Jerry Bayless said, “This is the most amazing app that I have downloaded. Works perfectly, clear/easy directions – photo and map helps to make certain communication is accurate!! Much faster than calling 3-1-1.”
CBS News in Dallas reported on the success of these mobile applications to residents in one local Community and how they can result in improving neighborhoods by eliminating issues as they occur. Residents in the city of Dallas like Anna Hill, a member of the Crime Watch Executive Board, encourage residents to use the app to report issues and says “they take notice” when issues are reported:
Above: Call takers in Dallas respond to requests from the app and phones; at right, Anna Hill (a resident) reports issues to the center with the app (lower left) At lower right, Margaret Wright discusses the 3-1-1 response plans.
So the next time you have an issue to report to your local government, why not see if they have a Citizen Mobile Application like the City of Dallas or the City of Austin to submit your concern and give it a try? You will find them simple, easy to use, and in most cases, the city will be able to respond quickly to resolve your issue – especially if you attach a photo.
Tom Malanfant is a Senior Product Manager for Motorola Solutions and a former 2-1-1/3-1-1 Call Center Manager for the City of Windsor, Ontario.
Learn more about Citizen Mobile Applications from Motorola Solutions.
Why we took the steps to implement Text to 9-1-1 in Kershaw County, SC
As the Kershaw Deputy Director of E-911 Communications, keeping my community safe and ensuring uninterrupted access to 9-1-1 is my highest priority. Today, less than 4 percent of dispatch centers in the country are prepared to receive text-to-9-1-1. In August 2014, Kershaw joined that percentage by becoming the first county in South Carolina to implement a fully-integrated text-to-9-1-1 solution and the first Motorola Solutions customer to do so as well.
Our communications center serves the needs of 62,516 people, providing dispatch to the sheriff department, emergency medical services, three police departments and seventeen fire departments. Our 9-1-1 dispatchers receive more than 100,000 calls for service annually.
Although the task seemed daunting at first, we decided to implement Text to 9-1-1 capabilities for various reasons. Text-to-9-1-1 gives the community a way to reach help when a phone call is not practical and enables better communications between first responders and the hearing-impaired population.
With our Jan. 27, 2015 announcement, I communicated the best way to utilize our text to 9-1-1 option and reminded the community of the following:
• Only text-to-9-1-1 when a voice call is not an option.
o If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired
o In case of a medical emergency limiting speech such as a stroke
o If speaking to a call taker will put you in greater danger
o In areas of limited service where a call cannot be made but a text can go through
• Only text 9-1-1 for emergencies that require an immediate response from:
o Fire Department
o Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
• Avoid text abbreviation, slang (e.g. IDK, THX, 2day, BTW) or sending an emoji to 9-1-1
• You must be in range of your service provider’s cell towers
Text-to-911 will also offer our residents a potentially lifesaving option for situations when calling 9-1-1 is not an option. In collaboration with Motorola and Intrado, our dispatch center is future ready and now equipped to handle an important component of the next phase in NG 9-1-1 – providing the technology to better serve our community.
Kirk Stropes is the Kershaw Deputy Director of E-911 Communications.
Kirk Stropes (center) explains the details of the new text-to-9-1-1 solution. Watch now as he shares the news: Kershaw County Launches Text-to-9-1-1 - YouTube