IDEA & OPPORTUNITY > NYC's 311; version 2.0

When Springwise first highlighted New York's 311 Service back in June 2003, its primary focus was as a municipal clearinghouse for non-emergency services. In those early days, 311 operators typically handled issues like complaints about noisy neighbors, pothole repair requests, and clarification of the city's Byzantine alternate-side-of-the-street parking rules. Now, the initial success of the service has prompted New York's city government and tourism sectors to set new, loftier goals – 311 is being transformed into a one-stop info source for the city's vast cultural and entertainment offerings.

The first stage of 311's expansion, already in effect, includes information on street festivals, a running concert calendar, and alerting callers. The latter was put to good use when last month more than 1,000 callers were informed about rained out New York Philharmonic concerts, saving them a trip to the park. (Source: NYT.) The second stage is being jump-started in time for the Republican Convention through the combined efforts of the system operator (the Department of Information Technology and Communications) and non-profit tourism marketer & promoter NYC & Company. NYC & Co. is providing 30 volunteers to man a temporary help desk at the 311 call center specifically to handle entertainment-related requests during the Elephant-fest.

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