CHICAGO (CBS) — The city of Chicago recently spent $35 million to upgrade its 311 system for non-emergency service requests, but how easy is it to report a problem? CBS 2 went out to test the system first-hand.
Chicago is a beautiful place, but take a close look, and you’ll find opportunities for improvement.
From potholes to graffiti to bad signs, the city’s 311 system is a way to let officials know a fix is needed.
CBS 2 wanted to test the system, so we went to the North Side, South Side, West Side, and downtown to report more than a dozen issues that needed repairs.
The phone option proved to be a mixed bag. After initially hitting snags with the automated voice system, and being transferred around, we were able to successfully report each item, but it did require some time and effort.
The texting option also had limits. If you text CHICAGO to 311311, you are given a menu of 12 choices. But if you’re trying to report an issue that’s not on the menu, forget texting.
If you do find an option to report, like a street light out, and type in an intersection, the system doesn’t like that. Instead, it requires an exact address.
Even after answering all the questions, including address, we failed over and over when trying to report issues like potholes. Of seven text attempts, the system only successfully accepted our submissions once.
CBS 2 also tried to use the 311 website to report a “no left turn” sign, but when we had to add a phone number to our report, the website requires you to enter your number with dashes. However, there’s no way to type a dash on the system with some phones.
So, while you can report an issue, you might not be able to enter your phone number to get text updates.
Finally, we reported a one-way sign so covered with stickers, you can’t see which way the arrow is pointing. We used the desktop version of the 311 request system, typed in HAR for Harrison Street, but the website’s dropdown menu only gave various intersections on Harvard as options.
Again, we were forced to figure out an exact address for a light pole, something that really doesn’t exist.
A city spokesperson said officials are looking into those issues, and already has resolved many of them. We will follow up and check to see if the fixes are made to the issues we reported.