ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As New Mexico stays at home, people in Albuquerque are flooding the city with thousands of extra 311 calls for help. The city says call volume to 311 is up by about 10% compared to the same time last year. Calls for information about the city’s response and community resources surrounding the Coronavirus are fueling much of the surge.
Since March 1, 2020, the city says it’s received more than 5,500 calls about COVID-19. Those calls include people seeking test site information or information about city services. The city says it’s seeing spikes in other areas, showing a strong indication of what many people are doing while they’re staying at home.
In April alone, the city says it’s gotten more than 2,200 calls scheduling large items for pick-up. Nearly 2,000 calls have come in with questions about convenience center hours, yard debris and more. Those calls are all being answered by city employees who are working from home.
“Our team, of course, has transitioned to telecommuting and we’re still answering 85% of the calls in less than 30 seconds,” said Mayor Tim Keller during a Monday news conference about the city’s coronavirus response.
One of the big projects the city’s knocked out during coronavirus is related to abandoned cars. The city says it has completely cleared a backlog of thousands of cases dating back seven years. Monday, there are now only around 100 active cases in the system.
The city says the backlog clearing allows the Albuquerque Police Department to better track and respond to the issue.
“Those cases are getting closed more quickly, they’re getting addressed, we are at the point where APD is no longer needing to utilize services from the other departments,” said Brian Osterloh, Director of the city’s Technology and Innovation Department.
The city says roughly 75 abandoned cars have been reported in April alone as people at home are keeping a closer eye on who’s parked on their street. Those cases are now usually being resolved in about three weeks according to Osterloh.
In all, the city saw nearly 70,000 calls to 311 in March. Just two years ago around February 2018, the city published a report listing 311 services as one of the potential cuts the city could consider to save money during a period with a projected budget deficit. That budget deficit was eventually filled with a gross receipt tax hike, passed by Albuquerque City Councilors.
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