City's 311 system up for 'Trendsetter' award

ATLANTA -- The city's one-stop, three-digit 311 customer service telephone system has been named as a finalist for the Georgia Municipal Association's Trendsetter Award, GMA officials say.

The award highlights innovative or "out-of-the-box" thinking by municipalities across the state, Amy Henderson, an official with GMA said.

"The nominations run the gamut of city government from parks and recreation, to police, to energy conservation, to arts projects to water/sewer," Henderson said Friday. "Albany is one of 11 finalists for the Trendsetter Award. There were 41 entries, so to be among the 11 is quite an accomplishment."

As a finalist, city officials will go to Atlanta Monday to give a presentation on the system to GMA officials, who will name six winners in January to be profiled by Georgia Trend magazine.

Cindy Tiernan, the city's 311 Manager, said that its gratifying to be named a finalist for the award and, even more so, that word is spreading about the service.

"I think its a tribute to the departments getting together and working on a way to better serve the citizens," Tiernan said. "If the departments didn't buy into it and things didn't get done after the people called in, the whole program doesn't work."

Currently, the 311 system allows residents to call that one number during normal business hours and request a multitude of city services from help with business licenses to reporting a pothole on a city street, Tiernan said.

"We have a wide range of services that are requested by our callers...but I'd have to say that the majority of calls are related to public works and code enforcement," Tiernan said.

After hours, residents can report their issue or leave a message in a voicemail that is answered the next business day.

The system also has an online component that allows work orders and complaints to be filed 24/7 via the city/county website.

Participation from the public is up, Tiernan says.

At the end of Fiscal Year 2011 on June 30, the system had processed 23,141 calls for the year. Since July 1, the center has fielded 10,427 calls and, calls in September were up 38 percent from September 2010.