The City of Riverside's Call Center began in 2004 as a way to provide a centralized point of contact for any non-emergency calls for city information and services. The first day the call center received a meager 15 calls and produced one work order about an uneven sidewalk.
In April, less than three years after its humble beginnings, the call center cracked the 50,000th work order mark (it was about graffiti removal), and the calls show no sign of slowing.
"Graffiti removal requests are our most common call," said Jerry Rogers, of Riverside Public Utilities, who oversees the 311 Call Center operations for the city. "Nearly 1,500 graffiti calls are reported each month, and they are typically cleaned up within 24 hours."
Riversiders have taken the call center's 826-5311 number to heart and now the center receives about 500 calls a day and has processed 2,275 work orders since that April call.
The service is designed to take pressure off of the 911 emergency lines and allow safety dispatchers to handle emergency calls, as well as being a city services point of contact.
"Before, people would be transferred to several different offices, even departments, in order to speak to the right person," Rogers said. "With 311, you don't have to know what department or what person; we'll find out for you and direct you as quickly as possible."
Since its activation, the call center has fielded more than 160,000 phone calls with its 10-member team. However, Rogers said that as more residents find out about the service the number is expected to rise. They have fielded more than 125,000 calls this year alone.
The 311 Call Center is staffed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekends. Messages left during off-hours are responded to when the center opens the next day. In addition to the 826-5311 line, requests for information and action can be made online at www.riversideca.gov by clicking the 826-5311 icon at the bottom of each page.
"By the end of this year, we hope to have our three digit 3-1-1 dialing system in place," Rogers said. "It will allow any resident in the city to reach us by simply dialing 3-1-1."
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