Officials: Pandemic plays part in 311 reporting uptick

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque’s 311 contact agents are getting more calls for service these days, and most of the problems and complaints seem to be linked to the pandemic.

“Yesterday, we had about 100 calls specifically related to COVID,” Technology and Innovation Department Director Brian Osterloh said.

That’s in addition to the usual problems reported to the city’s 311 call agents, a total of more than 80,000 for the month of July. Officials said the pandemic is playing a big part in the recent uptick in service requests.

Approximately 7,200 of those July calls were for large-item pickups, like mattresses and other furniture and appliances. That’s nearly 2,000 more than the total from the same time period last year. It’s a possible result of more people cleaning while at home.

“They’re renovating, just decided to get rid of that couch. We get that call,” Osterloh explained.

People scrolling through the city’s 311 app will see 2,800 reports of graffiti on businesses, bus shelters, and homes. Back in May, Mayor Tim Keller attributed part of the 25% increase in those cases to kids being out of school early.

“I think the message to graffiti folks is you’re wasting your time because it’s going to be gone in a couple of days,” Keller said.

It’s been common for 311 agents to hear non-stop reports about illegal fireworks. Approximately 6,500 of them, and more than double last year’s total.

Not surprisingly, the pandemic is bringing on a new group of callers: many of the more than 7,200 so-called “non-city complaints” have involved COVID-19 questions.

“Those are, ‘Where do I get testing? Where should I be tested? What are the latest restrictions/travel restrictions?'” Osterloh explained. If the agents don’t have the answer, they’ll direct people to the New Mexico Department of Health.

While the call agents are staying busy, officials add that with some overtime and temporary help, they’re improving their call response times. Right now, they’re answering about 80% of their calls in less than 30 seconds. They’re also working to reduce the number of cases open for more than three months.

The following from the July 2020 report shows the change in the number of cases since July 2019:

  • 132% increase in illegal fireworks reporting with 6,516 cases.
  • 91% increase in Animal Welfare Department inquiries with 5,349 cases (related to appointments and spay/neuter voucher limits).
  • 36% increase in Cultural Services Department inquiries, relates to BioPark ticketing and information with 3,462 cases.
  • 27% increase in Solid Waste Department cases for large-item pickup with 7,256 cases.
  • 8% decrease in Solid Waste Department cases for missed trash pickup with 7,256 cases.
  • 1% decrease in Animal Welfare cases of field dispatch with 2,122 cases.

People can access 311 services through the OneABQ app, online, or by calling 311.

New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

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