Government call center in New York City

Posted on May 17, 2010  /  3 Comments

An interesting article appearing in the New York Times’ documents the life of a 311 call center operator in New York City. 311 is the city’s online website and phone number which can be used by anyone for obtaining government information and non-emergency services. Last week, the service celebrated its 100 millionth call since its inception in 2003. Each operator takes an average of 90 calls a day and costs $46 million a year to run.

As she humourously notes:

I had my moments of doubt: should government, for example, really be in the business of telling people when museums are open?

But I came away thinking that in a city where it can be tough to make it, or even just make the rent, it makes a lot of sense to have a 24-hour line where people can report potholes, yes, but also vent.

Read the full article here.


  1. There is an error in the write up. 90 calls per operator per shift with 306 operators working. So the number could go up to 27000 calls per day. :-)

  2. Rohan Samarajiva

    To me,the most interesting thing about the article is the opportunity it gives to compare performance with the Sri Lanka government call center (GIC) that has been developed over the past few years as part of e Sri Lanka. Here is an excerpt of a piece I wrote late last year, using some usage data that I got from an unofficial source.

    “The approximately 3,000 calls received a day by 1919 is miniscule in relation to the calls received by the 311 service in New York City which receives 50,000 calls a day on average when you consider that 1919 is serving 20 million people, and New York City government possibly less.”

    There is much that the GIC decision makers can learn from New York.