Open 311 is an open standard that is supposed to be a cost-saving way for local authorities to process problems reported by citizens received via multiple channels like online and mobile, but it has its limitations and big firms like Microsoft currently have no plans to support the platform.
Bbits, developer of Love Clean Streets, has enabled its products to integrate with Open 311 to some extent but according to Chief Executive Ian Blackburn, the wide range of existing CRM systems mean integration can be costly.
“I get frustrated when people seem to suggest it is the perfect solution – in fact, there is a lot behind it to consider,” he said. “The local authority needs a back-end system that has Open 311 services built in, or you need an interface with Open311, and in the UK the choice is limited.”
“Anything that is open standard is likely to have a simpler set of features than a proprietary system – it is natural that it is going to be more generic,” he added.
MySociety is a big champion of Open311 but founder and director Tom Steinberg agrees that it may not bring about savings immediately but believes that “Open 311 is important in that it can lower potentially ever increasing costs, or limit the extent to which every new channel can potentially ramp up costs.”
He explained that technological advances are constantly happening and by using Open311, costs will remain the same regardless of new channels being created.
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