San Francisco’s 311 call center could soon expand to add a neighborhood notification system to alert residents about important updates via email or text message.
The system, under a proposal Supervisor Mark Farrell said he will introduce Tuesday, would inform residents regarding construction that would take up street parking, Muni line changes, streets closures and other activities.
For the past six months, Farrell said he hashed out the details with city departments to create a one-stop shop for public noticing that would be the first of its kind in any major city nationwide.
“A city resident should not have the burden of calling multiple departments, talking to different people, to understand what’s happening in their neighborhood,” Farrell said Monday.
“With the creation of the neighborhood notification system we will bring access to San Francisco’s most important decisions and projects into the 21st century.”
In 2007, the 311 call center was launched to much fanfare and popularity as hundreds of thousands called in each month, mostly to request services like graffiti cleanup, street cleaning or tree pruning.
Since then the service has evolved with new technologies, incorporating Twitter and other apps to capture people using smart phones and the Internet to report requests. More than 400,000 such requests were logged last fiscal year.
Nancy Alfaro, the 311 director, is supportive of the proposal, saying it “fits nicely within our goals.” Alfaro said that the notification system would allow users to “easily find information that may impact the areas where they live or work and/or request for notifications for permits within a particular area.
Currently, a person would need to go to each individual department’s website to find the information needed.”
The system would supplement, not replace, the existing notice requirements, which vary by department and impact. Some notices come in the mail with certain parameters such as distance from a project site and others are posted near the impacted site.
The effort will cost $200,000 to establish and $25,000 annually to operate in subsequent years. A request for a company to set it up would be issued shortly after the legislation is approved by the Board of Supervisors. The money is already allocated in the mayor’s proposed budget, which the board votes to approve July 24.
The initiative is expected to roll out out in two phases. Six months after approval, the 311 website would serve as a hosting platform for city required noticing. In another six months the electronic noticing alerts would go live.
“This will take the burden off of San Francisco residents having to invest hours of their lives trying to figure out what’s happening in their neighborhood,” Farrell said. “Instead the burden now shifts to the city of San Francisco.”
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