Tulsa councilors want 311 phone number available more quickly
BY BRIAN BARBER World Staff Writer
Saturday, January 07, 2012
1/07/12 at 4:18 AM
Read more about the KPMG efficiency study.
Some city councilors think Tulsa should start using a 311 phone number for residents to reach customer services, even though a fully integrated 311 system is two or three years away.
Council Chairman G.T. Bynum said during this week's council committee meetings that "the time frame seems awfully long."
"Essentially what we want to do is create a front line for the city of Tulsa - one easy-to-remember number that people can call without flipping open their phone books," he said.
"What prevents us from using that number right now?"
Information Technology Director Tom Golliver said the city is on its way to establishing a 311 system by consolidating the Mayor's Action Center and the utilities and refuse call centers to one Customer Care Center number, 918-596-2100.
However, he said, the city does not yet have the software to create a proper "citizen relationship management system."
Right now, residents' information, such as outstanding fines, water bills and permits, are scattered throughout numerous databases, Golliver said. That leads to people needing to be transferred.
There also are multiple work order systems that need to be merged into one, he said.
"We need to create one central knowledge base so that information is readily available to the call takers," Golliver said. "If we make it troublesome, citizens won't use it. They'll find some way to get around it."
The city has created and is hiring for the position of director of customer care to have someone oversee the 311 project, he said.
And a request for proposals must be issued to acquire the type of software system the city needs, Golliver said. Funding must be identified.
Estimates have ranged from several hundred thousand dollars to several million dollars, depending on the type of system, he said.
Simply starting to use a 311 number, Golliver said, "is the easy part."
Councilors pointed out that of the 911 Center's calls, 40 percent are for nonemergency matters. Having 311 would help divert those calls.
Councilor Skip Steele said the Customer Care Center number could be changed quickly and advertised to the public.
The other tools would come into place as they are ready, Steele said.
"Is that too simple?" he asked "Am I missing something?"
Councilor Blake Ewing agreed, saying using 311 "would be a nice head start, simply for the sake of public exposure."
Golliver said he would look into the possibility of using a 311 number sooner.
Establishing a 311 system is a project resulting from the KPMG efficiency study of Tulsa's government.
Original Print Headline: Councilors want to knowhang-up with 311 number
Brian Barber 918-581-8322