“Can you tell me the steps for boiling a live chicken?”
“Can I claim my dog as a dependent on my taxes?”
New York City officials on Thursday marked two decades of the city’s 311 non-emergency answering system by releasing a top-20 list of those and other memorable calls.
Mayor Eric Adams said the 311 system has received 525 million contacts by phone, text and other means since its inception in March 2003. He said the service “has become an indispensable resource for New Yorkers looking to make a noise complaint, report a cleanliness issue, learn whether alternate side parking is in effect and so much more.”
Adams said in a news release that the city’s first-ever 311 call was for a noise complaint in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens.
Baltimore was the first U.S. city to use 311 for nonemergency calls in 1996. New York City’s 311 system was inaugurated by then-mayor Mike Bloomberg on March 9, 2003 and grew to become the nation’s largest such service.
New York’s anniversary celebration also marked the release of a “State of 311 Report” outlining the service’s expansion from a phone-based system to include texts, social media posts, website submissions, chat support and a mobile app.
The top inquiry of 2004, the first full year of reporting, was for the removal of appliances using freon, city officials said, while the top inquiry of 2022 was about a parking ticket or speed camera violation.
Some questions and complaints may have been difficult for operators to answer:
- “I’d like to file a noise complaint against my refrigerator.”
- “Can you check if my boyfriend is married?”
- “A goat is tied to the stairwell in my building.”
- “Can someone spray the trees so the leaves stop falling?”
- “Can you transfer me to a ufo-ologist?”