Urban areas such as Philadelphia, PA utilize the 3 digit phone number 311 in order to give residents a way to connect with local government. Philadelphia’s new 311 service is cloud based and it was built by Unisys using SalesForce. The new 311 system is able handle texts, requests using the website, calls from landlines and mobile devices. The service is designed to help users feel better connected with local government. Using the new services, citizens of Philadelphia can send feedback about government services or ask about specific services offered by the government.
The old 311 system used by the City of Brotherly Love was managing up to 1.5 million requests per year. Rosetta Lue, the Executive Director of the 311 in Philly, mentioned that, “It was time for an upgrade, and the demand for our services outstripped our abilities.” Out of the requests the 311 service would see, Lue noted that 4 out of 5 citizens who called the hotline wanted information about recreational sports leagues or needed to submit a municipal service request. The remaining faction of callers would report issues such as potholes or trash not being collected. Lue mentioned in an interview that she expects the number of 311 requests to double in the next 5 years.
Why Unisys and SalesForce? The local government established a commission to investigate the best options for what they needed. After choosing Unisys, Lue noted they liked the solution because “It allows us to plug-in and play.” Another reason Philadelphia chose this solution was because “It reduces upfront costs.” Crystal Cooper from Unisys congratulated the city on its 311 upgrade by mentioning, “This is a testament to Philadelphia thinking proactively.” Cooper goes on to say that “I think we won because we had the best solution … we have extensive experience in the private sector with a partner like Salesforce.”