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Sacramento goes high-tech with new iPhone app for 3-1-1 service

Sacramento launched a new smartphone application Thursday that will give residents a way to notify the city about some of the most frequently reported service issues and problems such as potholes, missed garbage cans on collection day, illegal dumping and stray animals, according to a press release.

“The app allows us to increase our capacity to take more calls, be more responsive and improve accountability,” City Manager John Shirey said in the press release.

Currently, 22 full-time city employees handle approximately 1,300 calls and 75 emails each day through the city’s 3-1-1 call center, according to Department of Transportation Spokeswoman Linda Tucker. The service is always available, and city staff estimates about 100,000 calls are lost each year as a result of lengthy hold times.

Although the iPhone app is new to the city, it isn’t the first foray into using technology to provide better service to the city, according to city spokeswoman Amy Williams: Sacramento also has an online system for residents to comment on City Council agenda items and a subscription email alert system called GovDelivery.

Large cities across the country have been turning to smartphone apps to help their cities run more efficiently, including Salem, Mass. (which currently offers three smartphone apps), Portland, Ore. and Omaha, Neb., which is also launching an iPhone app similar to Sacramento’s on Thursday.

In California, a number of southern cities already have released smartphone apps, including Riverside and Irvine, both of which did so earlier this month.

Sacramento’s new iPhone app is an “end-to-end product,” according to the press release: The information put in by the user will automatically get to the appropriate city staff without requiring 3-1-1 staff to retype and relay the information.

“What a convenience this will be for those we serve to have the ability to let us know what needs addressed,” Shirey said.

Residents can learn more about the new app and expected service improvements at a demonstration hosted by city staff at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at City Hall, 915 I St.

Melissa Corker is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @MelissaCorker.

Keep up with our political coverage with our weekly newsletter, Sacto Politico. It goes out every Wednesday morning and includes a summary of all the week’s political news affecting the capital city, with links to all the interesting, must-read stories from newspapers, magazines and blogs. It also features the best of our live chat series, Sac Press Live.

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