Eddie Mannis proposes incorporating innovative technology into 311 city services. This new platform will provide residents with immediate feedback and live work-status updates, in order to establish effective channels of communication between residents and city officials. Residents will have access to the city 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, making government interactive and completely open for business. “You can do almost anything from a phone app these days, and this should include using and interacting with our city services.” Mannis said.


The enhancements will create a customer-focused service that will also feed the city large quantities of data. This data will be used as an assessment tool for city services, will uncover local needs that have previously gone unseen, and will track the amount of time between a complaint and its resolution. The new system will include a web portal, a mobile app, text and email capabilities, and an automatic voice response system.


“This won’t just make it easier and more efficient to deal with city government, it will also provide my administration with valuable data to help us improve our services.”


Mannis developed this idea as part of his commitment to effective, efficient, and customer-centered government. “One of the day-to-day issues I heard about during my time at the city as COO, and continue to hear about, is road conditions. I want to better utilize 311 to address concerns like potholes, street sweeping, snow and ice removal, traffic signal concerns, and objects obstructing traffic on our city streets,” said Mannis.


Developing a mobile app would not only make it easier to report issues as they arise, it would also improve efficiency and provide cost-savings to the city. The average cost of a 311 call is $3.39, with most of that cost tied to the salary of 311 call-takers. As residents take advantage of mobile reporting services, the volume of calls 311 receives will decrease, which will allow for the reallocation of call center resources.


Other cities, like Memphis, have already taken advantage of this innovative technology by creating a 311 mobile app. This app allows residents to report problems in road surfaces, schedule special trash pickup, and even allows residents to snap a picture of a pothole and tag specific locations using their cell phone’s location services.


Additionally, use of a text-message and email-based reporting system would permit residents who either are not comfortable calling in, or prefer other forms of communication, to have their concerns addressed. “By upgrading 311 to include the ability for Knoxvillians to send in text messages, pictures, and to interact on social media, we’ll be able to make better on our promise to get government right.”


Finally, many cities have adapted their official social media pages to be more interactive with the community.  These pages allow residents to submit concerns just like they would by calling 311. While residents would still have the option to call 311, an updated and more innovative 311 would expand the number and type of resident who has their voice heard.


“There is a lot city government does very, very well,” said Mannis. “We can use technology to do it even better.”