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San Francisco Mayor Links Call Center to Twitter Service

June 04, 2009

One San Francisco-based is putting a whole new spin on call centers, thanks to Twitter.
 
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone announced this week that residents can make complaints or request to the city’s call center using Twitter, a micro-blogging site. People can tweet the city's call center about street cleaning, graffiti removal, potholes, and garbage maintenance, according the city Customer Service Center Web site.
 
Twitter is a micro-blogging service that allows friends, family, and co-workers to stay connected through the exchange of short, quick answers using no more than 140 characters per message. The two-year-old site has exploded in popularity this year. In the last two months, traffic to Twitter has more than quadrupled, according to comScore data. The number of visitors to Twitter soared 83 percent in April from March, reaching 17 million.
 
“We are the first city in the country, if not in the world, to actually combine this new two-way communication technology with a 311 call center as a new way to communicate directly and through mobile devices with the citizens of the city and county of San Francisco," Chris Vein, the executive director of San Francisco's Department of Technology, told Government Technology.
 
The SF311 Customer Service Center is open all the time. Users are asked to add "d sf311” before the message to make it private. The SF311 Customer Service Center is open all the time. The site says the amount of time it takes to receive the tweet will largely depend on the response of the Twitter network.
 
San Francisco is using CoTweet, a Twitter enterprise platform, to manage and track messages. Since its launch on Tuesday, there have been about 89 requests, the report said. The city now has nearly 1,400 followers and has made 39 updates.
 
Some examples of the Tweets include: “Streetlight Repair: d sf311 The metal streetlight in front of 25 Van Ness Ave has not been coming on for the past couple days;” Graffiti Removal: d sf3111 Offensive graffiti on the west side of the building at 1455 Market;” and Department Information: d sf311 Where is the Human Resources Dept for the City and County San Francisco?
 
The effort is part of a larger move by local government and companies to reach consumers and stay relevant by using social networking site. According to an AdAge report, a number of small businesses are using Twitter as a marketing tool.
 
For example, The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa recently used the social networking site to launch a room giveaway to help promote its 96th birthday, TMC (News - Alert) reported. What’s more, U.S. military branches, for example, are getting in on the action. The Air Force and Navy have Twitter feeds, in addition to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
 
For now, the popular social networking site has no plans to put itself up for sale, TMC reported today. But if the time is right, a sale isn’t a complete impossibility, Twitter chairman Jack Dorsey said. As Twitter grows, company officials for ways to make money off of the free service. Some of the add-ons would include a directory of commercial accounts to verify the legitimacy of businesses and ‘lightweight analytics, TMC reported.



Edited by Amy Tierney

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