The city of Nashville now knows better than ever what bothers its residents.
That’s possible because Metro overhauled its 3-1-1 helpline in 2017, making it easier for residents to use and far more informative for officials.
Now known as “hubNashville,” the system allows complaints and requests to be more easily sorted, and for residents and officials to track when issues are resolved. The system also gives officials insightful trend data, and it allows anyone to see where issues are cropping up (see map).
By far, trash and recycling generate the most calls – more than 33,000 last year for missed pickups, requests for new “carts,” and reports of illegal dumping.
Also common: thousands of reports of malfunctioning traffic lights, almost as many about potholes and nearly 2,000 reports of dead animals in need of cleanup last year. The system also logs less common queries, about leaky fire hydrants, cars parked on lawns (more than 500 in 2018) and nearly 200 noise violations.
Big or small, common or odd, all the requests funnel into a single database. And at her desk in city hall, Erin Williams monitors what’s coming in.
“If you need to know where to go in Metro to get something done, my job is to help you find the right folks,” said Williams, the mayor’s director of constituent services.
Williams says hubNashville was created to consolidate all of Metro’s various helplines into one. Before that – for years – residents with needs or questions could end making multiple calls.
“The whole idea is to make it simple for people to access Metro government without needing to know who to call or what department does what,” Williams said.
The change has made it so easy to seek help that Metro is now seeing a higher volume – about 7,000 requests per month, or more than 200 per day.
But hubNashville is supposed to benefit Metro in the long run. The new software allows call center staffers to quickly create help tickets and follow-up to make sure they are complete. And Metro leaders can learn what people need, and where.
And in the coming months, the hub data could be put to use in another way: informing how tax dollars are divided among Metro departments.
“This budget cycle, you’ll definitely see that data being put to use,” Williams said.