ALBANY, Ga. — The joint city-county 3-1-1 service call center has been named a 2012 Georgia “Trendsetter” by the Georgia Municipal Association.
Each year, GMA recognizes the top local governments that are working to be creative and innovative in how they work with their communities, and this year the Albany-Dougherty 3-1-1 Center fit that bill, Assistant City Manager Wes Smith said.
“Well there are a couple of things that set our 3-1-1 (center) apart from other centers both in the state and nationally. First and foremost is the cooperative nature we have with Dougherty County and Water, Gas & Light,” Smith said. “We’re not aware of any other 3-1-1 that has that kind of cooperation broadly so that all local services are provided through the one number.”
Using the call center, residents of both Albany and Dougherty County can call and request work orders for a variety of services ranging from having a pot hole filled to reporting a power outtage. The 3-1-1 operators then put in a work order with the proper local government agency, which then has a set period of time to follow up on the call.
Heading into its third year, the system is now getting upwards of 30,000 work orders per year, both through the phone line and through the Internet.
While operators are only manning the center during regular business owners, area residents can access 3-1-1 through its website 24 hours per day and place work orders from the convenience of home, Smith said.
Albany-Dougherty 3-1-1 Manager Cindy Tiernan said she’s been asked to speak about the center at various conventions and symposiums across the country and said she’s grateful that GMA chose to recognize Albany for being innovative — something she says they don’t intend to stop.
“There are several things that we have in the works right now,” Tiernan said. “No. 1, we’re going to do up a 3-1-1 video and put it on our website. ... We’re also in the process of working with our vendor to develop a phone app so you can actually have access to 3-1-1 through your smart phone, which is kind of cool.”
Tiernan also said that her office is building a relationship with the Albany Fire Department and Emergency Management Agency that would allow her operators to serve in the event of a disaster.
Albany joins four other Georgia cities as Trendsetters for 2012. These cities were culled from a list of more than 40 applicants from around the state.
GMA Executive Director Lamar Norton said the cities that earned the award are setting a positive example for other municipalities across the state.
“We’re very proud of these trendsetting cities,” Norton said. “They demonstrate the best of what cities are doing around the state to foster community, advance the arts and culture, and assist individuals and businesses in achieving their goals.”
Albany joins Athens, Duluth, Greensboro, Stone Mountain and Suwanee as a Trendsetter city for 2012.