Over the course of my time as county executive, my office has worked diligently to create a government that is smarter, more efficient, and more effective than ever before. We are implementing best practices and embracing modern technology, and as part of these reform efforts, the county will now be leveraging a new tool that has transformed the way government and constituents interact.

I am proud to say that Suffolk311 is here, working to make government more efficient and accessible to the public. 311 is deployed in almost all of our nation’s major cities, such as New York City, Boston, Dallas, and Washington, D.C., with major success. And here in Suffolk we continue to lead the way as we are the first suburban county in New York State to implement this kind of system.

So what is 311 and how does it work? It is a sophisticated constituent response system that uses cutting-edge cloud technology to provide more professional, timely, and effective customer service for all municipal residents.

By dialing 3-1-1, residents will be directed to a central call center that will drastically simplify constituent interactions for tracking and completing common inquiries and concerns, such as reporting potholes. And because we know our residents are always on the go and need access anywhere at any time, the Suffolk311 system will include a website, mobile application, and social media platform so residents may choose from a variety of methods to initiate service requests.

Not only will 311 make county government more responsive and accessible, it will improve public safety by reducing the burden on our 911 call centers. Our 911 call centers receive over 900,000 calls a year. By offloading the tens of thousands of nonemergency calls to the new 311 system, our emergency call centers will be better positioned to respond to true emergencies.

On top of all that, this initiative will transform the way county government utilizes data to make critical management decisions, better allocate resources, and spend taxpayer dollars. The system will capture critical details on each call, question, or request, allowing us to gather unprecedented insight into the issues our communities are facing in real time. 311 is about connecting residents to government, but also refining the way our government functions.

By improving the lines of communication between our residents and each facet of county government, we are creating an efficient, transparent, and accountable problem-solving process. This new system incorporates the best elements of public safety, data management, and constituent satisfaction. Suffolk has, and will continue to be, a leader across the state when it comes to bringing county government into the 21st century.

Steve Bellone is the Suffolk County Executive.

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