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GCN : March 2015
CUSTOMER SERVICE APP-ENABLED 311 Announced Feb. 18 at the city’s first Citizen Engagement Innova- tion Summit, the new Philly 311 system updates what’s been in place since 2008 with some notable additions, includ- ing a cloud-based neighborhood portal that lets residents view nearby requests and organize events to address their con- cerns. It also helps the city better track ser- vice requests. “ We’re moving towards a model where the government doesn’t have to provide all the solutions, but it can be a platform upon which citizens are able self-organize,” said Vivek Kundra, executive vice president of Salesforce, a cloud computing company. “What you’re seeing is a huge shift. Philly 311 is the customer ser vice tool, the front office for the city of Philadelphia.” And that front-office focus is crucial, he added. “For the last 40 years we’ve seen massive investments in [information tech- nology] that, frankly, have not paid off, which were all in the back office,” said Kundra, former chief information officer of the United States. “Now what you’re seeing in terms of the cities is that they’re making these investments in the front of- fice and addressing the problems that citi- zens actually have.” Since the Philly 311 call center opened in 2008, it has received more than 7 mil- lion calls from citizens and businesses with service requests, ranging from pothole repairs and cleaning graffiti to removing drug paraphernalia from playgrounds and reporting abandoned vehicles, the city said. Philly 311 expands citizens’ access to city services via a wide range of channels including telephone, Internet, the Philly 311 mobile app and Facebook and Twit- ter. The system also provides comprehen- sive service reporting capabilities to city management on system performance and geographic-based service needs, according to Unisys, which set up the system. With the portal, residents don’t have to wait for government workers to respond. Instead, they can interact with one anoth- er on concerns about, say, drug use, graf- fiti or crime in a particular section of the city. For instance, if people want to build a playground, they can organize an event via the portal, according to a CBS Philly report in which city Chief Customer Ser vice Of- ficer Rosetta Carrington Lue described the portal as “kind of like Facebook for govern- ment.” Other new features of the app include better mapping to geolocate problems and improved tracking for service requests. Predictive analytics will also be used to anticipate residents’ needs, such as sched- uling trash pickup ahead of a snow storm, Kundra said. The new Philly 311 is built on Sales- force’s government customer relationship management (CRM) cloud computing platform. It was part of a $120 million cap- ital investment by Mayor Michael Nutter to upgrade technology infrastructure and part of his “Philly Innovates Blueprint,” a seven-step plan for making America’s fifth largest city more connected. Since the new app was first released in 2012, it’s become the second most used tool for logging ser- vice requests and has a 93 percent custom- er satisfaction rating, the blueprint states. Since then, Philadelphia has seen the number of people who walked into a city government building to request services drop by 30 percent, while the number who used mobile as the point of contact rose 344 percent, according to Salesforce sta- tistics. “ With the new Philly 311 customer ser- vice platform, our goal is not only to create a more connected, citizen-responsive city, but also to inspire other cities to follow our model and engage their citizens,” Nutter said in a statement. “ The old debate about big government or small government is over,” Kundra said. “It’s about smart government. It’s much bigger than just a technology stor y. It’s about redefining the business model of government.” • A new blueprint for handling Philadelphia’s 311 services passes some of the power over city services to residents Revamped Philly 311 goes social BY STEPHANIE KANOWITZ “The old debate about big government or small government is over. It’s about smart government.” – V IV E K KUNDRA, SALESFORCE 30 GCN MARCH 2015 • GCN.COM 0315gcn_030.indd 30 3/2/15 12:13 PM