Measure pushes for accurate completion-time estimates; expansion of 311 system.

(CHICAGO) Alderperson Andre Vasquez (40th Ward) filed an ordinance with City Council on Monday that calls for a review of the City’s 311 system, including “technical improvements to the system, consultation with members of the City Council, improving accuracy of response times, and creating more transparency for the public users.” The ordinance also requires implementation of system improvements following review and consultation with City Council. 

The City’s current 311 system allows residents to open service requests for several hundred categories of city service, from potholes to water in basements to rodent control. However, the system offers limited information once a ticket has been filed: a static completion time estimate (provided by the department responsible for the request type), and a status of “open” or “closed,” with little to no detail about the work required or performed to date. 

Ald. Vasquez has been working with the City’s IT section (a part of the Department of Assets, Information and Services) on improvements that would display live, automatically-updating completion time estimates based on past performance, and on tools that would show the steps taken and remaining towards completion for each of the various request types. 

“These are simple, good-goverment improvements,” Ald. Vasquez said of his work with IT. “When people report an issue, the City should be able to let them know who’s working on it, what work’s being done, and how long it’s realistically going to take.” 

Ald. Vasquez praised the IT section for the work done so far: “Our City IT people have been very, very responsive. We’re fortunate to have some very skilled and very dedicated folks working on the back end of these software tools. With the work we’ve already done and the introduction of this ordinance, I’m confident that we’re going to see substantial improvements to the user experience of the 311 system.”