City Receives State Money to Launch 311 Telephone System

Haverhill Rep. Brian S. Dempsey, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Haverhill’s plans to implement a resident telephone help line received a boost yesterday when Rep. Brian S. Dempsey, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, and other members of the city’s legislative delegation delivered nearly $60,000 to pay for the program.

The money, originally promised when the city signed an agreement—a “Community Compact” with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito in February—will be used to help establish Haverhill’s 311 call system. A non-emergency constituent call service, the 311 call system allows residents to report issues within the city as well as receive answers to general inquiries concerning the city by simply dialing 3-1-1. “The 311 system is used in municipalities throughout the state and the country and has proven to be a cost effective tool in addressing the needs and concerns of citizens,” a statement said.

“This grant will support the city in the creation of Haverhill’s new 3-1-1 call system initiative,” Dempsey said. “The new 311 initiative will increase accessibility to city hall and improve civic engagement throughout the city.”

Dempsey, of Haverhill, was joined by Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives (D-Newburyport) and Reps. Linda Dean Campbell and Diana Dizoglio, both of Methuen, presented the $59,500 Community Compact grant.

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini detailed the telephone system in his budget message to the city council.

“The key to a successful 311 call center is to have properly trained staff. A successful 311 call center is not a trip back to the future of switchboard operators transferring calls. In a successful 311 call center, the operators are trained to handle most of the problems and do not need to transfer the calls. For example, if the caller wants a pothole patched the 311 operator can enter the work order into the highway department’s computerized work order system,” Fiorentini wrote. “Our goal is to handle as many calls as possible to relief the stress of city hall employees.”

“This state funding through the Community Compact program will contribute to the development of a Haverhill 3-1-1 system, which will help streamline non-emergency city services and provide residents with a user-friendly way to help maintain their neighborhoods,” said Ives.

“I stand with my fellow colleagues of the Haverhill legislative delegation in celebrating the awarding of this Community Compact IT Grant to the City of Haverhill,” said Dizoglio. “These important funds, focused on bolstering innovation and transformation at the local level through investments in technology, will implement a 311 system to connect residents of Haverhill with their city."

“This is welcome news as some of these systems are very outdated. It will help the mayor and his team to offer more timely and customer friendly responses to citizen concerns,” said Campbell.