Maryland, too, saw a huge demand for information through its health department-run GoVAX call center. Call takers were able to schedule more than 460,000 vaccine appointments, including more than 5,000 vaccine referrals for homebound residents.
And California started a rent relief hotline where residents could get information about applying for emergency rental assistance.
Back in New Orleans, the city responded to the increased demand by expanding 311 services through an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot that residents could text with service requests and other questions.
Call takers expanded their role by proactively checking in on residents who tested positive for COVID-19 to offer additional services or assistance.
While millennials and younger residents were more likely to access city services online or through the chatbot or online, the call center was a lifeline to older residents and those without internet access.
“In pre-COVID days, if you wanted something done in city government, you had to get up and go to that city agency,” said Tyrell Morris, executive director of the Orleans Parish Communication District, which oversees the city’s 311 and 911 call centers.
Now, he envisions a scenario in which residents call the city’s 311 center and call-takers can see that resident’s interaction with the city – whether it’s visits to a library or recreation center or prior service request calls.
Andrea Noble writes for Route 50, which focuses on how state and local governments are using technology to solve big problems. This story is republished through the Solutions Journalism Network.