Municipalities have the safety and well-being of their residents as a primary consideration every day and during emergencies. We set about trying to understand the ways that the 211 service could reduce the load on municipalities to help them focus their resources in ways they need to do and for which they are uniquely equipped. Being able to get relevant and accurate information to the public and respond to public concerns is a priority. Some municipalities had even discussed setting up a call centre to do this when needed, and were pleased to learn about the 24/7/365 asset, 211 service, already in their communities and available to provide this role.
- For emergency responders and municipal managers, 211 provides a channel for authoritative information to the public about anything relevant to the emergency that does not require police, fire or ambulance, such as the location of emergency shelters, where to get basic supplies and how to donate goods. This helps to alleviate the non-emergency calls that go to 911 and other Municipal phone lines.
- In addition to the public inquiry role, the database skills of 211 service, include the capability to develop disaster databases of emerging information as required.
- A further key capability of 211 service is call tracking and reporting on trends in caller needs and gaps in service.
Clarifying the match of these three 211 capabilities to municipal requirements was a key step in the project. Building on these offerings are options such as registering volunteers, evacuees and people willing to donate goods to help.