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Online system to track city response 311 calls

Updated: October 16, 2012 6:06AM

Four months after Chicago’s failure to repair a crumbling downtown viaduct — despite a task order generated by a call to 311 — cost taxpayers $450,000, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is implementing a tracking system to make certain it won’t happen again.

The technology upgrade will make the process of calling 311 — to get a pothole filled, a tree trimmed or a broken streetlight replaced — like using FedEx to send a package, under the plan reported by the Chicago Sun-Times last spring.

The “service tracker” feature will allow people who call 311 for 14 of the most requested city services to track their service requests from the time they are submitted and receive an email when the issue is resolved.

Nearly 40 percent of the most requested service calls fielded by the 311 nonemergency system are duplicates or follow-up calls from Chicagoans checking on the status of their requests.

By giving people a tracking number that allows them to chart the progress of their requests online, call volumes and wait times should be reduced. “Allowing Chicagoans to track and submit service requests in real-time brings an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability to city government,” Emanuel said in a written statement.

Four months ago, the City Council approved a $450,000 settlement to compensate a pregnant woman who was injured when the roof and front windshield of her car was smashed by a 50-pound chunk of concrete that fell from a viaduct in 2007.

The woman claimed that the city negligently failed to maintain the viaduct, knew of its defective condition and failed to make repairs.

“Five months before the accident, a 311 call was placed by a driver who complained that concrete had fallen onto the car at the same location. The 311 system issued a task order. But, there are no records indicating that repairs were conducted prior to the incident in question,” First Deputy Corporation Counsel Leslie Darling told aldermen at the time.

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