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May 12, 2011 / Omar J. Peters

What a 100M Calls to 311 Reveal About New York

Illustration: Pitch Interactive

The most common 311 complaints plotted by time of day.

Back in November 2010, Wired took a look into New York City’s 311 call service where residents can place non-ememergency complaints.

Launched in March 2003, 311 now fields on average more than 50,000 calls a day, offering information about more than 3,600 topics: school closings, recycling rules, homeless shelters, park events, pothole repairs. The service has translators on call to handle some 180 different languages.

With its high ceilings, playful carpet tiles, and dual LCD monitors on every desk, the main call center room looks like a web startup, until you register the steady murmur of 150 to 200 customer service professionals working the phones. Mounted on one wall is an oversize dashboard, with chunky blue, red, and green LED pixels tallying the day’s inflows by city department: calls waiting, maximum waiting time, agents on call—and the most important statistic of all, “service level,” which reports the percentage of calls that are answered within 30 seconds.

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