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Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the next phase of Open 311, the Mayor’s vision to make Chicago the city with the most accessible and transparent 311 system in the country, by narrowing the list of bidders for contract negotiations to two and launching a comprehensive public engagement strategy to engage Chicago residents on improvements to the 311 system. To ensure that the new 311 system meets the need of Chicago residents, the City will also conduct listening sessions across the City. The City anticipates selecting a final bidder by the end of 2014 with the project slated to begin in early 2015.
“As more and more of our residents look online to pay bills, buy goods, and manage their finances, City Hall needs to keep up,” said Mayor Emanuel, “Open 311 will make it easier than ever for Chicagoans to understand the services the City offers and request services that meet their needs.”
When completed, the Open 311 system will give residents more options for making and tracking service requests, sharing ideas for service improvements, collaborating with their neighbors to take action to improve their communities, and better understanding government operations. Residents will be able to use their smartphones, social media applications, and computers to access Open 311, and the platform will offer real-time status updates.
By upgrading the technology behind the 311 platform the City will also strengthen its ability to collect data on service requests and use that data to drive improvements in service delivery. Staff in the 311 call center will have better tools to enhance their interaction with residents and provide them with better information on the status of existing requests.
Last year, the City launched an open and competitive two-stage process to identify a vendor to fully implement the Mayor’s Open 311 vision – upgrading the technology behind the system, increasing transparency of service requests and City operations, and offering residents more options for making service requests and reporting issues.
The City selected the finalists because their proposals demonstrated their understanding of the City’s goals for resident engagement, ability to offer flexible solutions, capacity to make information available to residents via multiple channels, and strong experience implementing large systems and work with local governments.
Residents will play an important role in developing the Open 311 platform. The City will engage residents via social media and by hosting neighborhood meetings with community organizations, places of worship, block clubs, and focus groups. Residents will be invited to offer their views on how the current 311 system can be improved and, once the new system is under development, can participate in testing the new platform to ensure that it meets the needs of Chicagoans. The City will begin holding community listening sessions on improving the 311 system in October, but residents can submit suggestions to Open311@cityofchicago.org.
Since taking office, Mayor Emanuel has implemented a series of reforms to make the delivery of City services more transparent and responsive to residents. In 2012, the City unveiled the Open 311 Service Tracker system, which enables residents to go online or use their smartphones to submit service requests that include photos and keep tabs of their requests in real-time using a FedEx style tracking system. That year the City also upgraded the ChiTEXT tool to allow residents to submit service requests and receive updates via text message. In 2013, Chicago residents submitted 62,331 requests using the Open311 tools.