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Building a 311 System: A Case Study of the Orange County, Florida, Government Service Center

NCJ Number
Stephen T. Holmes
Date Published
May 2007
46 pages
This report describes Orange County's (Florida) development of a 311 telephone number for nonemergency calls in order to increase the efficiency of a 911 system reserved for emergency calls while ensuring that nonemergency services to citizens would be maintained and improved.
The 311 model deemed the most appropriate for Orange County was intended to be a low-cost solution compared to the alternative of expanding the operations of the 911 Center. The model would allow citizens and visiting vacationers to access one centralized center in order to obtain information about government services. The first challenge was to obtain input from the various municipal police agencies within the county. The project planners envisioned a strategy in which the participants from each agency would meet once a month to develop a model whereby the nonemergency calls could be offloaded into a new consolidated 311 call center. After initial meetings of the project staff and encounters with political and financial fallout from funding proposals, the project team contracted with several legal consultants in the State capital to draft model legislation that would govern, fund, and set parameters for the establishment of 311 systems in Florida. The proposed bill failed, however, largely due to the lobbying efforts of wireless carriers, who balked at having another government tax attached to cell phone bills. The plan eventually pursued was to centralize a select number of county services under one roof, with the hope that as the project progressed, other county entities would join. This report describes efforts in developing the Government Service Center Model and the types of services offered under the 311 system. A separate chapter describes equipment and technology for call routing and call tracking. Other chapters discuss staffing, including training and continuing education. The report concludes with an outline of lessons learned.