Houston 311 System Launches New Website to improve Citizen Engagement
The City of Houston's 311 System is undergoing a comprehensive organizational redesign, leveraging technology to increase Houston residents' engagement with their City. A new technological infrastructure is currently being designed and tested that will allow Houston 311 to connect with a wide variety of communication channels. The first public result of this effort is a redesigned www.houston311.org website, which will greatly simplify navigation, fact finding and problem solving.
Visitors to the site will find City services organized by functional area, rather than by cryptic City department acronyms. The previous website required citizens to know mundane details of the way Houston local government is organized, and what each department's abbreviations were. The new www.houston311.org also features an index of City services, where service information can be located under several logical headings. For example, a site visitor that would like to learn more about dog parks could search the index entries under "A" for animals, "D" for dogs, or "P" for parks. an extensive collection of informational websites and service requests for the respective departments which provide them.
The new Houston311.org website was "soft launched" on May 31, 2011, and is built on top of a new technology platform known as a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) system. The CRM platform continues to be developed and will be fully functional in October 2011. Website visitors are currently able to submit more than 100 service requests via the website, and that number will increase to 400 when the CRM system is finalized this fall. Citizens may also expect to be able to utilize many different tools to find information and request City services when the CRM system is fully functional, such as Smartphone apps, social media, and improved call center functionality.
"The new Houston 311 website is the first glimpse at Houston 311's renewed focus on its customers, Houston residents. Everything we’re doing in the City is driven by excellence in everything we do and the private sector model of putting our customers first. We recognize that for Houston 311 to be a true asset to our residents, it needs to meet people where their problems are, rather than require they have their 'Houston Government Structure 101' handbook nearby. 311 began as a call center, and that will remain a very big part of what the new Houston 311 will do. Improvements to our website and other developments are going to allow more Houstonians to conveniently find information and to provide the City with needed service feedback. The new website is one more step on our path to establish Houston as the beacon of best practices in municipal government," said Alfred Moran, director of the Administration & Regulatory Affairs Department, which oversees Houston 311.
About ARA: The Administration & Regulatory Affairs Department (ARA) manages 10 divisions within the City of Houston, the fourth-largest municipality in the United States. Since its inception in 2008, ARA has translated public and private-sector best practices of efficient service delivery and cost-effective business processes to enhance Houston's city government, efficient operations and bottom line focus. ARA divisions include: Administrative Services, Major Initiatives, Operations, Regulatory Affairs, Strategic Purchasing, Insurance Management, City Council Administration, BARC and Parking Management. For more information about our department, please visit our website at http://www.houstontx.gov/ara/.