Tuscaloosans Have a New Option For Non-Emergency Calls

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - A new system designed to take non-emergency calls that can tie up 911 operators who need to help people with real emergencies is now online in Tuscaloosa.

The city's new 311-call center is intended to make it easier for residents to request services, report problems and get information. The service can be accessed by any landline phone within the city's jurisdiction, including the police jurisdiction, and by cell phone throughout the county.

It can handle up to 23 callers at once and will be staffed from 7 am until 7 pm Monday through Friday to help residents who can't contact City Hall during regular business.

Tuscaloosa bought the software that powers its system from Mobile for 100-thousand dollars, a deal first-term Mayor Walt Maddox said saved hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Mobile Mayor Sam Jones said the port city implemented the service about a year ago.

On the Net: Tuscaloosa 311, www.tuscaloosa311.com

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)