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GCN : October 2012
20 GCN OCTOBER 2012 • GCN.COM The city of Minneapolis has launched a mobile app for reporting non- emergency customer service problems that uses Open311 software standards to automate tasks now handled in labor-in- tensive call centers. The free app from SeeClickFix lets users of iPhones, Android phones and BlackBerry devices report problems that otherwise would have to be called into the city's 311 call center or reported through a Web site The application not only can gather more information, such as photos and location co- ordinates, than other report- ing methods, but by working through a cloud service hosted by KANA Software, information can be routed automatically to the department and crews re- sponsible for responding. 311 is a short dialing code reserved for non-emergency municipal services, although not all cities offer the service. It is analogous to 911, which is used nationally for emergency services such as police, fire and ambulance. The goal of the program, launched in July, was to provide more options for citizens with- out adding to the city's workload in processing reports, said Min- neapolis 311 Director Don Stick- ney. "The use of smart devices seems to be almost doubling on an annual basis" based on the number of mobile hits from smart devices on the city's 311 Web site, Stickney said. "As we see our customers shifting chan- nels, we wanted to open up for more mobility." But he did not want to simply add to the 2,400 311 calls the city already received each day. He wanted to handle the reports differently and bypass the call center. "We wanted the mobile app to do the 'me thing' the cus- tomer service rep does," he said. This is done by using richer data in a standardized format so that it can be integrated directly GOALS: Provide more options for citizens to request non-emergency services without adding to the city s workload in processing reports. TACTICS: Use Open311 software standards to automate tasks now handled in labor-intensive call centers. Set up standardized formats for messages to be integrated directly into the existing 311 service back end. Report routing via cloud-based Open311 service from vendor providing the city s 311 technology. TOOLS: SeeClickFix: App for iPhones, Android phones and BlackBerry that lets residents report without calling city s 311 service. Open311: Protocol for location-based collaborative issue-tracking o ering free Web API access to existing 311 service. By using open standards for 311 non-emergency reporting, Minneapolis hopes to automate customer service tasks now handled at labor-intensive call centers NEXT GENERATION CRM: BYPASS THE CALL CENTER CASE STUDY