The digital divide

Published 10:16 pm Monday, September 16, 2013

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City of Troy adds social media, app to services

The City of Troy is moving forward with technological advancements to better serve community members.

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Troy is implementing a 311 call center, making available a mobile app that allows for communication of text and photos and has initialized a city Facebook page for announcements and two-way conversation.

“It is a very layered and comprehensive approach to customer service,” said Troy Mayor Jason A. Reeves. “Whether you go to our website, Facebook, or you use our mobile app, we will be able to help.”

Beginning in early October, the city will alert community members to call 311 instead of the usual City Hall number or individual department numbers. Each time someone calls, trained 311 staff members will create a work order that will be passed along to the appropriate department.

When an issue is resolved, customers will be notified of how and when.

“Public Works, Recycling, the Fire Marshal … anything,” Reeves said. “We will find someone who can help you and we will get that information to the proper person.”

Prior to bringing the 311 proposal to the Troy City Council for approval, city officials spent time studying successful programs, including an established 311 system in Tuscaloosa.

“You don’t have to know exactly who to call. Everything gets funneled through one number and we’ll take the guess work out of it,” Reeves said. “It’s just a way to keep track of your requests and what is going on with your need related to city government.”

Reeves said the push for a mobile app and Facebook page came about as a way to reach out to community members of all age groups – youths and college students through texts, people in their 30s and 40s through Facebook, and older members of the community through easy telephone access to help.

Reeves said he understands each technology is not exclusive to a certain age group, but he feels the move is a step in the right direction.

“We want to be able to serve everyone’s needs,” Reeves said. “We want to be sure that we are responsive to every aspect of the community and provide the same service throughout.”

The city’s mobile app is already available for iPhone through the app store and an android version is expected to be ready before the 311 service goes live in a few weeks. Search for Troy 311 to download. The city’s Facebook page is already live. You can “like” the page and keep track of events by searching “City of Troy, Alabama.”

“We really feel like this is going to be very beneficial to our citizens and customers.”