National 311 Day Date in the current year: March 11, 2024

National 311 Day National 311 Day is observed annually on March 11 (obviously) to raise awareness of a non-emergency telephone number that provides access to variety of municipal city services.

Everyone knows to call 911 in case of emergency, but what number do you call when, for example, a traffic light is not working or there is an abandoned vehicle on the road? These situations are not emergencies per se, but they need solving. Many communities in the United States and Canada have the phone number 311 to deal with non-emergency situations on a municipal level.

The 311 service was launched in Baltimore, Maryland in 1996 as a police non-emergency number. The first comprehensive 311 system providing access to city services was initiated by the City of Chicago in 1999. Since then, most major cities and a number of smaller towns and counties throughout the United States have joined the program, as well as several communities in Canada, where the first 311 service was launched in Calgary in 2005. 311 centers has also been implemented in parts of Latin America, for example, Costa Rica, Panama and Puerto Rico.

311 and 911 calls are normally connected to the same call center, but 911 calls are assigned a higher priority, and 311 calls are answered when there are no 911 calls on hold. Due to this system, people with true, often life-threatening emergencies can get assistance as quickly as possible, whereas people who need assistance in non-emergency situations can wait.

What kinds of situations can 311 operators help you with? The number is primarily designed for residents to report various concerns they notice in their cities. These concerns may include, for example, debris or a dead animal on the road, graffiti, non-working parking meters and street lamps, illegal parking, sinkholes in streets, housing violations, lost pets, etc. If you need to make a noise complaint, 311 is also the number to call.

In 2020, a team of Google employees worked on improving 911 and 311 response time in San José, California as part of the Fellowship program, which matches Google employees with civic entities and non-profits for several months of pro bono work. During this time, Google teamed up with San José, Oakland, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Santa Clara County to found National 311 Day.

The main goal of National 311 Day is to raise awareness of the 311 service, which many people don’t know about, and honor the “first” first responders who answer calls and assist people with accessing various municipal services.

How can you observe National 311 Day? First and foremost, learn whether your city, town or county uses the 311 system. If so, make sure to use it for non-emergency situations and encourage your friends and family to do the same. If your city hasn’t joined the 311 program, you can encourage its leaders to consider joining.

If you know any 311 operators, reach out to them on March 11 and thank them for everything they do for the community. And don’t forget to spread the word about the holiday on social media with the hashtags #National311Day and #311Day.

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National 311 Day, observances in the United States, non-emergency phone number, municipal services, 311 system