Improvements made to Austin 311 app following complaints

Austin 311 app (City of Austin photo)
Austin 311 app (City of Austin photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin’s 311 app offers convenience, but has come with concern and confusion, leaving users wondering where service requests really stand. In September, KXAN reported on complaints marked as closed without changes being made.

After a flurry of feedback, 311 recently launched app improvements, with more changes slated for the start of the year.

“We’re calling and nothing happens,” Natalie Hulsey, who lives in Franklin Park in southeast Austin, told KXAN. “Or it just takes months, literally months for things to be cleaned up or to be fixed.”

Hulsey’s neighbor, Eddie Martinez, described more of the same.

“I believed in 311 and I believed that the system worked and people cared,” he said. “After reporting multiple times nothing happened, so I just took it upon myself to get my lawnmower and cut the grass myself. Just so it could look nice.”

Austin 311 has been working to restore faith in those who’ve felt forgotten by improving its app. “This is still Austin. And we pay taxes and we’re told hey use this service, call this service and then nothing happens,” Hulsey said. “All it would tell you is ‘closed.’ And so at that point you don’t really know, where did this go?”

Now, rather than simply close a complaint when the appropriate city department takes over, there are additional indicators showing whether a request is submitted, already reported or in progress, along with a pop-up screen with more information indicating when you can anticipate a response.

“Even if it hasn’t been completed yet, at least they’ll know where it’s at and what the next step is,” Paul Bestgen, with Austin 311 told KXAN.

311 is working to include service request notes early next year to bridge the current communication gap.

“This will allow city staff to relay to the submitter what actions were taken with their particular service request,” Bestgen explained, to assure action is taken and answer calls with more clarity.

311 says if you’re unsure what category to submit your request under, select “other” or give them a call. They’ll make sure your request is routed to the correct department.

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