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Noisy neighbors, apartment maintenance were New Yorkers’ top 311 complaints over last two decades, data shows

Mar. 9, 2023 By Ethan Stark-Miller

What have been New Yorkers’ top inquiries and service requests to the city’s 311 service over the past two decades?

According to new data released by Mayor Eric Adams and his chief technology officer, Matthew Fraser, on Thursday, the top 311 inquiry over the past 20 years was noise from a neighbor and the top service request was to the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) for apartment maintenance — clocking in at 2,218,794 inquires and 7,418,404 requests respectively.

The data was given to amNewYork, upon request, in conjunction with a report released by the mayor’s office containing topline 311 metrics from between 2003 and 2023 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the service, which aims to provide New Yorkers with questions or requests for the city direct answers or connection to the appropriate services.

Since its launch in March 2003 under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 311 has received and handled over 525 million contacts, according to the mayor’s office, across phone calls, text messages, social media interactions and its mobile app.

“Since its launch two decades ago, NYC311 has become an indispensable resource for New Yorkers looking to make a noise complaint, report a cleanliness issue, learn whether alternate side parking is in effect, and so much more,” Adams said in a statement. 

“Responding to 525 million contacts is a testament to the thousands of public servants who literally respond to the call of service each and every day,” he added. “From day one, our administration has been focused on improving the customer experience to make city services more equitable and accessible for New Yorkers, and we are grateful for the critical role NYC311 has played in this effort.”

Over the years it’s been in operation, 311 has gotten an average of over 71,000 contacts-a-day, according to the report. Most of those contacts, 68%, were made by phone, while the remaining 32% were conducted through the other methods by which the service can be reached.

The periods with the highest 311 contact volumes took place during separate blizzards in 2011 and 2013 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012, according to the report. Other high-volume stretches came around the launch of the IDNYC program in 2014 and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. 

Fraser, who heads the Office of Technology and Innovation (OTI), was charged with overseeing 311 when Adams consolidated it with other technology-oriented city agencies under the new office at the start of his administration last year. OTI finished major upgrades to 311’s system architecture last year to ensure its longevity, according to the mayor’s office.

The chief technology officer, in a statement, said 311 has been vital for more directly connecting New Yorkers to the city through technology.

“As a part of the new Office of Technology and Innovation, NYC311 has laid much of the foundation for how the city can use technology to meet New Yorkers where they are,” Fraser said. “Thank you to the NYC311 team for continuing to push the boundaries of what is possible within city government, and for their relentless dedication to helping New York run better.”

The other top five 311 inquires over the past 20 years in descending order include: heating in residential buildings, totalling 1,997,650; looking up parking tickets, totalling 1,954,787; information or complaints about the city’s subway and bus systems, totalling 1,983,455; and complaints about landlords regarding maintenance, totalling 1,796,896. 

The other top complaints regarded: heat and hot water in residential buildings, directed to HPD and totalling 4,147,747; noise in residential buildings, directed to the NYPD and totalling 3,861,685; chlorofluorocarbon (CFC recovering, directed to the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) and totalling 2,308,468; and illegal parking, directed to the NYPD and totalling 1,872,677.

Along with the report, the mayor released a video where he runs through some of what his administration identified as the “most memorable” 311 calls over the years.

“How about this one, ‘can I claim my dog as a dependent on my taxes?’” he read. “‘Can you check if my boyfriend is married?’ ‘I’d like to report my neighbor for waving to everyone on the block,’ that’s a real New Yorker …‘Can you transfer me to a UFO-ologist?’”

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