One Tweet Does It All – Twitter Joins San Francisco’s 311 Telephone Service

San Francisco’s 311 telephone service, which you already know all about, now can be accessed through Twitter. Read all about it in the press release, after the jump.

Here’s a straight take of today’s press conferenceat the 311 Call Center near Van Ness and Market. And here’s writer Jackson West’s perspective. The thing about today’s announcement is that it doesn’t come with all that much of a bill, so that’s good. For what it’s worth, Washington D.C. is taking a different path with its 311 service.

Twitter co-founder Christopher Isaac Stone yucking it up with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom  at today’s presser.


Throwing in Nancy Alfaro, “Director of 311” and Chris Vein, City CIO and Executive Director, San Francisco Department of Technology


And also signed in and on the scene, for some reason, were the “Virgin America Inflight Teammates”, who wanted credit for being there. Here are a couple of the friends of Oprah – there was something like six of them there today, all told. Let’s hear it for San Francisco’s little hometown airline, still around despite getting pushed around by the big boys all the time.  


One of the things brought to the attention of 311 today via Twitter was the “illegal” viral campaign promoting the new “District 9” film. No idea how that ticket will get resolved.  

Anyway, as promised, all the deets, after the jump.


San Francisco, CA – In an effort to foster more civic collaboration and
connectivity with constituents, Mayor Newsom today announced a first of its
kind application that allows citizens to access the City’s 311 Call Center
through Twitter, a social networking service. Instead of making a phone
call, members of the public can send a short message called a “tweet” to
alert the city about a pothole, or simply find out about the City’s green

“I’m very excited that San Francisco is the first major City to roll out an
application of this magnitude on Twitter,” said Newsom. “We are changing
the way cities connect with their government.”

Twitter is a social networking service that can be used with ease on both
PCs and mobile devices. Because it limits users to very short messages of
140 characters or less, it has become one of the largest platforms in the
world for sharing real-time data. Via Twitter, the City will receive
real-time reports on the needs of specific city services and depending on
the device, users can accompany their tweet with a photograph for added

To be able to “tweet” into the SF 311 call center, users must go to and click on “Follow Me.” Users will then receive an
email and/or direct message from the call center with the response, “How
can I help you?” Users who do not have a twitter account will be asked to
register with Twitter.

The idea for this new application developed during a meeting with Mayor
Newsom and Twitter founder Biz Stone and Twitter CEO Evan Williams. During
that meeting the Mayor received a “tweet” from a citizen regarding a
pothole.  As a follow-up, Mayor Newsom directed the Department of
Technology to brainstorm on how the City could use Twitter’s unique
platform to create a two-way form of communication with constituents.

“Mayor Newsom has always been in the forefront of emerging technologies,”
says San Francisco’s CIO Chris Vein. “We saw Twitter as a viable
communication tool that opens up new ways to connect with our

“The new Twitter service expands the access to city services as the public
can now call 311, use the online portal at or report
issues through Tweets,” said Nancy Alfaro, Director of 311. Alfaro also
reports that “sample Tweets” of the most requested services have been
posted online so that customers can be sure to include the information
needed to address their issues.

The 311 Customer Service Center, which launched in March 2007, has received
over 5 million calls and serves callers in more than 176 languages.  To
interact with SF311 go to You can also follow 311
on Twitter @SF311.

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One Response to “One Tweet Does It All – Twitter Joins San Francisco’s 311 Telephone Service”

  1. This is an exciting move for us here at ZOS Communications to see. ZOS provides the LBS Platform that allows location communication and location embedding into tools like 311 and twitter – among other things. This type of convergence is always a positive step to a more seamless emergency services, and location communication environment. –

    PS – ZOS may be a Santa Barbara company, but I will always be a true blooded San Franciscan… Good work Nancy Alfaro, Chris Vein, and, of course, the big Gavin!