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Cincinnati launches 311, a way for residents to seek help with non-emergencies

A man filling a pothole
Becca Costello
/
WVXU
A Cincinnati Public Services crew filling potholes on Purcell Ave. in Price Hill on February 23, 2022.

Cincinnati officials are trying to make it easier to get help with services. A plan to streamline the process with a hotline, website and app is being tested now.

“One thing we learned through user testing and some of the engagement surveys is that people want to get help from the city and get city services, but they're often confused about how and where to get that,” said Director of Constituent Affairs Chandra Yungbluth.

The 311 hotline was soft-launched earlier this year and operates 24/7. It’s staffed through the Emergency Communications Center, so if someone calls 311 with an actual emergency, they can be immediately transferred (and vice versa).

“It makes it easy, convenient, and equitable for citizens that they only need to know two numbers to access city services: 311 and 911. When there's an emergency, you're calling 911. For everything else, you can call 311,” Yungbluth said.

None of the seven-digit numbers currently in use will be eliminated, but calls to those numbers will be redirected to the 311 call center.

The new website is 311Cincy.com and the Fix It Cincy App has been rebranded as 311 Cincy.

Yungbluth says the city will be able to keep track of requests easier and residents will get responses a lot quicker. The system is live now but still in the testing phase while staff are trained. The city plans a more extensive rollout this fall.

Plus, Yungbluth says, more features will be launched soon.

“If you call from a cell phone, you get an automatic text follow-up after the phone call ends with your service request number, where to track the status of it, and any other pertinent information to it,” she said.

That text follow-up is already in place for 911 calls. Yungbluth says the system could even be used for community engagement down the road.

Learn more in this presentation below:

Becca Costello grew up in Williamsburg and Batavia (in Clermont County) listening to WVXU. Before joining the WVXU newsroom, she worked in public radio & TV journalism in Bloomington, Indiana and Lincoln, Nebraska. Becca has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including from local chapters of the Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists, and contributed to regional and national Murrow Award winners. Becca has a master's degree in journalism from Indiana University and a bachelor's degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Becca's dog Cincy (named for the city they once again call home) is even more anxious than she is.