A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from March 29, 2005
311 (non-emergency call)
311 was introduced in 2003 to handle non-emergency calls and take the burden off 911. It helps callers to make New York City understandable.

Too much noise in the neighborhood? Call 311. Fire? Call 911. The new number was long overdue.


Wikipedia: 3-1-1
A non-emergency telephone number 3-1-1 is a special N-1-1 telephone number in many communities in Canada and the United States that provides quick to non-emergency municipal services or a Citizen Service Center Dialing this number allows city residents (only in certain cities) to obtain important non-emergency services through a central, all-purpose phone number.

3-1-1 is intended in part to divert routine inquiries and non-urgent community concerns from the emergency 9-1-1 number. A promotional website for 3-1-1 in Akron described the distinction as follows: "Burning building? Call 9-1-1. Burning Question? Call 3-1-1."
(...)
History
Its first use for this purpose was in Baltimore, Maryland, where the service commenced on 2 October 1996. 3-1-1 is intended to connect callers to a call center that can be the same as the 9-1-1 call center, but with 3-1-1 calls assigned a secondary priority, answered only when no 9-1-1 calls are waiting. This system is intended to extend the system such that true emergency callers are answered quickly, without ringing or busy signals.

NYC.gov -- How 311 Works
How 311 Works
311 allows customers to call one easy-to-remember number in order to receive information and access to City government services.

Call takers provide information, take service requests and refer callers to government agencies.

All calls to 311 are answered by a live operator, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Immediate access to language translation services in over 170 languages is available.

Service requests made via 311 are electronically transferred to the appropriate agency for direct service.

311 is able to update the information in its computer systems in nearly real time. Whether the Mayor's Office, other City agencies, or the local news advise people to call, 311 is able to provide Call Takers with relevant information so they can inform the callers and the City can better serve the citizens of NYC.

During the short time that 311 has been in use, it has proven, on numerous occasions, to be an important part of New York City and an important tool to its customers. 311 was used to relay important information during the Blackout of 2003 and the Staten Island Ferry Accident. 311 has also aided other NYC agencies with specialized programs such as the Department of Finance's STAR program, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's Flu Vaccines, and the Mayor's Office with the Republican National Convention.

7 July 1997, Associated Press Newswires, "Nation's big-city 911 systems overburdened and imperiled" by Deborah Hastings:
The latest pitch to cure the country's clogged emergency lines is 311, a nonemergency number endorsed by President Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno, and approved in February by the Federal Communications Commission.

Los Angeles has budgeted $294,000 for a new task force to study implementing such a number. Dallas, whose 911 system was deluged during a devastating 1995 storm, also is studying 311.
Baltimore is the only city with a functioning 311 system, and officials declare it a success. Since its October inception, the line has reduced 911 calls by 20 percent and fielded an average of 1,700 calls per day.

19 January 2003, New York (NY) Times, "Dialing 311: City Says One Call Will Fit All" by Diane Cardwell, Metropolitan desk section 1, pg. 27, col. 1:
Of all the places where Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is bringing the methods of business to the madness of government, none is perhaps more visible than the city's airy new Citizens Service Center, home to the nascent 311 system.

One of the first major policy initiatives outlined by Mr. Bloomberg almost a year ago, the nonemergency government service line is not yet up and running, but judging from a press briefing and tour at the 45,000-square-foot center in Lower Manhattan on Friday, it is well on its way to fruition.

13 May 2003, Business Wire, "Accenture Helps New York City Develop and Launch 311 Citizen Service Center":
NEW YORK-(BUSINESS WIRE) - May 13, 2003 - New York City residents now have easy, around-the-clock access to municipal services by dialing 311 to reach the new Citizen Service Center, which was designed, built and deployed through a joint collaboration between the City and Accenture (NYSE: ACN).

311 is the new all-purpose three digit telephone number designed to give New York City residents 24/7 access to non-emergency municipal services and information. Working closely with the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunication (DOITT), Accenture led the development of this complex systems integration project, the size and scope of which are unprecedented among 311 programs across the country.

The 311 service is designed to make it faster and easier for residents to contact a specific City department or hotline. Under the new "one-stop" service delivery model, residents can simply dial 311 on their telephones and be connected to a citizen service representative. The Citizen Service Center can assist callers with a wide range of city services and information requests in a total of 170 different languages so that today New Yorkers only need to know two numbers for City government - 911 for emergency services and 311 for everything else. Callers from outside the five City boroughs may also access 311 services by dialing 212-NEW-YORK.
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityNames/Phrases • Tuesday, March 29, 2005 • Permalink