As an experiment AT&T and Baltimore City in Maryland (In the U.S.) set up a sister number to 911 this number also gets you in touch with the emergency services, but for non-emergency situations. Such as your kitten being stuck up a tree or a car being parked across an alley or your driveway. This number was designed to stop all of the non-emergency calls from coming into 911 which was much easier to remember then three seperate seven (ten, since the start of ten digit dialing in Maryland) digit numbers that changed depending on what part of the city you were in. This number went into service within the city limits on October 2, 1996 and is still in service today.

Some guidelines for using 311.....

  • Destruction of property -- not in progress;
  • Threat of non-imminent assault;
  • Reports of thefts -- not in progress;
  • Follow-up information on property crime;
  • Juvenile complaints -- not in progress;
  • Loitering not causing a disturbance;
  • Animal disturbances;
  • Lost property;
  • Parking complaints;
  • Sanitation complaints
  • Abandoned automobile not suspected stolen;
  • Minor flooding or temporary power outages;
  • Telephone misuse unless threatening or a matter involving domestic violence;
  • Open hydrants unless causing a hazard;
  • Sick cases/injured persons/elderly assists unless potentially serious or life-threatening; and
  • Water leaks

Use common sense. If it is in progress or someone could get hurt badly call 911. If not use 311.

An interesting note: Dialing 311 on Bell Atlantic served phone line anywhere within the Bell Atlantic service area besides Baltimore City will sound a tone down your line then leave you without dialtone for a few minutes.

See also: Baltimore 311 pilot project
Woooo! A Nebraska band that made it big!

Formed in 1990 in Omaha 311 is comprised of singer/guitarist Nick Hexum, singer Douglas Martinez (S.A.), guitarist Tim Mahoney, bassist Aaron Wills (P-Nut), and drummer Chad Sexton. They met in Omaha. Tim, Nick, and Chad went to Westside High School and S.A. and P-Nut went to Bryan High School. Chad and S.A. met while attending college at the University of Nebraska.

From the 311 FAQ this is where the band got the name:

    311 is an Omaha police code for indecent exposure. One rainy day, P-Nut and some friends went skinny dipping in a public pool. They were apprehended by police. One of P-Nut's friends (Jim Watson) was arrested, cuffed (naked) and taken home to his parents. He was issued a citation for a code 311 (indecent exposure). We thought this was funny, so we took it as our band name. After the humor of the name wore off - we still kept it because we liked that it was just abstract and that it did not define us in anyway. The name did not describe our sound or our politics, it just let the music speak for itself. Since most interviewers always ask us "What does 311 mean?", we have come up with lots of different answers over the years. Some include.... Nick - "five friends making music", Tim - "a number dictated to me by a higher intelligence", P-Nut - "knowing a little numerology and studying a little magic, which I do; in some factions, three is man and 11 is magic. So 311 is like male magic."
A statement by the band about the whole 311/KKK thing:
    "It has come to our attention that there is a very unsettling rumor circulating regarding the name of our band '311.' We have been told that certain white supremacist groups use the numbers 311 to represent KKK. This is a most unfortunate coincidence and one that is extremely disturbing to us. We would like to state for the record that this is completely at odds with our personal beliefs. We believe the only people worth hating are organized haters like the KKK. Anyone familiar with our lyrics knows how we feel. Our lyrics make a strong stand against racism and a strong stand for positivity and unity. The name of our band originally comes from an Omaha police citation for indecent exposure. We thought it was funny at the time. Now our name simply means - five friends from Omaha making music. Music that stands for peace and unity."
Anybody that has listened to their music can tell they would have nothing to do with white supremacist groups. You would have to be supremely ignorant to make that link.

I remember when these guys used to play the Ranch Bowl in Omaha. Well I remember hearing about it cause I never made it to a show since I lived in a small town an hour away from Omaha and wasn't the music freak I am now. The Omaha and Lincoln radio stations talked about the band all the time. Then they moved to LA and really took off.

Their early stuff is their best. I think they are re-finding some of what they used to have on their latest album. The middle couple albums seemed be lacking the spark that helped make 311 big. I know there were a couple albums before Music, but I can't remember what their names were or who released them. Both were indie releases (I think) and are extremely hard to find now. So this discography is incomplete.

Soundsystem -- Capricorn Records (1999)
Omaha Sessions -- ?? (1999?) only available on their website.
Live -- Capricorn Records (1998)
Transistor -- Capricorn Records (1997)
s/t -- Capricorn Records (1995)
Grassroots -- Capricorn Records (1994)
Music -- Capricorn Records (1993)
Unity -- ?? (199?)
Hydroponic -- ?? (199?)

To amend knarph's writeup, 311 has served many diverse purposes for local telecommunications carriers over the years.

In the 1980s and possibly earlier, dialing this number in a Southern Bell or Southcentral Bell service region (later joined together as BellSouth) of the United States would give you a special computerized function of the local NOC that verbally identified the seven digit telephone number of the line you were dialing from. This worked mainly for POTS circuits, and was sadly phased out in most areas following the federal telecom deregulation legislation of the 1990s.

Knowledge of this feature was something of a closely-held secret among phone company employees, and was mainly used by outside line workers and contractors. The need for this feature has not changed, but the number that now must be dialed to access it has. In most cases, it is now a regular seven digit number, which is changed periodically by some local telcos in an ongoing effort to keep it secret.

In Tallahassee, Florida where I live at the time of this writing, which is served by Sprint as the local telco provider, the number to dial for circuit ID is 520-3111. It is interesting to me that they still keep the 311 component of the phone number, but other telcos don't always do this (given that I know several for different cities in the southeastern US).

It should be noted that dialing this number long distance will not work - it must be dialed from a local telephone. If you call your operator (dial "0") and attempt to represent yourself as a phone company employee or some other telecom worker, there is a 95% chance that they will not give you the number for your area that performs the circuit ID function. However, in today's world of digital cell phones with Caller ID, this function can often be achieved with the local telco's silent acquiesence.

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