Glitches being fixed in Pr. George’s 311 system, Verizon says

Callers trying to reach Prince George’s County’s new 311 system are bumping into some potholes on the information highway.

Some callers using Verizon phone lines have dialed 311 — attempting to reach the county government’s services in non-emergency situations — only to be told by a recorded voice that the number is not in service. Other callers using cellphones are getting the District’s 311 system, with a cheerful greeting from the mayor’s office. Or they get Montgomery County’s 311 system.

Verizon and county officials say they are on the case, and in some instances, the problem has been fixed.

It turns out that Verizon phone lines, especially in the southern part of Prince George’s, were not adjusted to connect to the new number, which went into service Oct. 1.

“Certain portions of the southern part of the county were not included,” said Derek E. Davis, deputy director of the county’s community relations office. Verizon officials have told the county that the situation will be rectified soon.

“Cellphones also pose a problem,” Davis said.

Sandra U. Arnette, a Verizon spokeswoman, said in an e-mail that the company is aware of the problems and is trying to get them fixed.

“Despite the county and Verizon testing the new service before it went live, it was later discovered that 311 was not turned up in Verizon’s central office serving the Oxon Hill community. So, area residents and businesses — including those on Verizon’s copper and FiOS networks — who attempted to call 311 were not able to reach the call center.

“The 311 service is now operating as it should in Oxon Hill. Still, we’re running tests to verify that there are no further 311 issues anywhere in the county. We’re also looking into a report that some customers’ calls are being routed to the D.C. 311 service. ”

The District and Howard and Montgomery counties have 311 systems, which are designed to route non-emergency calls from the 911 emergency systems. The systems are aimed at improving customer service in local governments, as well as relieving pressure on the 911 systems and allowing 911 operators to focus on emergencies.

In Prince George’s, residents also may log on to the county’s Web site to access the call center.

Miranda Spivack writes about government and politics in the suburbs, based in the Post’s bureau in Largo in Prince George’s County.
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