Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Great Pothole Challenge Day 1 Recap: 311 takes the lead, Perks a close second, Ford stuck at the gate

What's this about?

We're running the Great Pothole Challenge, where we pit Rob Ford head-to-head against a random city councillor and 311 to see who can fix a pothole the fastest (we're reporting the contest with a time delay to prevent manipulation). We filed all of the requests on a weekday morning so there would be an even playing field. Here's how the first 24 hours played out:

Day 1: Toronto 311:

Toronto 311 is the central contact point for accessing Toronto services. Everything short of a 911 emergency can go through 311 to get processed and handed off to the appropriate city agency. Its purpose is to save money, reduce wait times and increase customer satisfaction. There are a few ways to contact 311 - email, twitter, filling out an online form or via third-party phone apps that link in to the 311 database. You can also call 311 if you want to do it old school.
For the GPC we took the randomly-assigned pothole, went online and filled out the minor pothole report form. It took about 3 minutes to complete and was very straightforward. The ability to attach a picture would have been nice, but it's an easy process.
What happened: Within five minutes we received an automated reply, a work order ticket was issued and the ticket status was changed to "inspection scheduled". The stated service standard was inspection within five working days.

Day 1: City Councillor:

A primary job of city councillors is to help solve their constituents' problems. This can range from fixing potholes to resolving fence disputes to negotiating commercial zoning. The randomly-assigned pothole happened to be in Gord Perks' ward, so we sent him an email containing the appropriate details.
What happened: Three hours later we received a reply from Perks' office, thanking us for the note and forwarding it to the 311 general mailbox. An hour or so later we received another reply for good measure (does that count as gravy?). The 311 auto-reply email promised a response in 48 hours, but they came back just under the one-day wire with a ticket and the same service standards as the direct form.

Day 1: Rob Ford:

Mayor Rob Ford says that he brings a "bottom line and customer service" focus to city government. His top priority is "customer service excellence".Rob says to call him if you need help, so that what's we did. A quick trip to the fridge confirmed his office number (416-397-FORD). For his randomly-assigned pothole we left a message with the same information as the other two contestants and our contact information.
What happened: In the first 24 hours, nothing.

Day 1 Report Card:

Rob Ford
Councillor Perks
Toronto 311
3 hours
5 minutes
23 hours
5 minutes
Inspection Scheduled
23 hours
5 minutes

By the end of Day 1 we had 311 in first place, with Councillor Perks a close second and Mayor Ford bringing up the rear. After 24 hours all three potholes remained unrepaired.

What's next?

Tune in tomorrow to see if Rob Ford was able to catch up!

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