Though many residents are familiar with 911 and 411, there is a list of other national three-digit numbers that can provide Columbia County residents with ease and convenience.
Residents can access 211, a United Way Call Center for health and human service needs; 311, used to access the Columbia County Government for government information, filing complaints and service requests; 511, used for Georgia travel information, including traffic data; 611, used for reporting problems with telephone service; 711, a Telecommunications Relay Service allowing people with a hearing or speech disability to use the telephone system by text; and 811, used for finding utilities.
"All these collectively replace a quilt work of complicated seven-digit and 10-digit numbers that are different from one city to the next and are often hard to find in the directory," said Pam Tucker, Columbia County's director of the Emergency and Operations Division.
The three-digit numbers, often called "N11" codes, also are fairly easy to memorize, she said.
Tucker, who has worked for the government for more than 30 years, said she even has faced difficulties accessing state government agency phone number listings in the phone book.
"People can really spend a lot of time and frustration trying to find something," she said. "But having all these N11 numbers are just really helpful, and they're nationally consistent."
In 2004, Columbia County became the second county in the state to offer the 311 number, used for non-emergency government services, and 20,000 service and general information requests from citizens were handled this year, Tucker said.
"In the past, everyone called 911, which is dangerous because you fill up your 911 lines," she said. "We want life-threatening calls to be responded to quickly, and they (911 dispatchers) want to be able to clear up their lines, so they can take those types of calls."
Tucker said the 211 number has increasingly become more popular with residents.
"Especially these days with so many people out of work and the economy the way it is, the 211 number has become more popular," she said.
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