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Taipei Citizen Hotline 1999: One Number, Full Service

The 1999 Citizen HotlineOn November 1, 2004, Taipei City Government launched the 1999 Citizen Hotline, the first 24-hour telephone service window in Taiwan. This hotline provides citizens with expedient access to municipal services over the phone. With the increasing popularity of network applications, this system was boosted by a web-based telephone system launched in November 2006, which allows citizens anywhere to place free calls via the Internet from a computer that is linked to web pages of agencies or schools in Taipei. This new feature has offered citizens an easier access to public services with lower phone bills and significantly reduced communication costs on public affairs among government agencies and between schools at all levels, thanks to the use of the web-based telephone.

The 1999 Citizen Hotline was staffed with 31 people at its initial stage. They handled about 50,000 incoming calls every month to provide services such as: simple inquiries, upcoming programs, call forwarding, receiving petitions, appeals, reports, feedback, and suggestions as well as public announcement call-outs and fax-on-demand services. In order to provide more considerate services, the Research, Development and Evaluation Comission referred to services and operations at the 311 Citizen Hotline in New York City and, consequently, in November 2007 started working on optimizing the 1999 Citizen Hotline. The Secretariat and Department of Information Technology worked in cooperation to upgrade and renew the information system, streamline and integrate service processes, renovate service premises and improve personnel quality, in the hope of transforming this hotline into an integrative center for municipal services.

In light of growing volumes of service communications, the optimized 1999 Citizen Hotline will be expanded to include 106 call service staffs. Besides those quality services originally offered, active measures have been taken to cover a wider range of services by integrating the 16 toll-free (0800) lines and 4 dedicated fixed lines currently provided by City Government agencies. Another feature is the provision of information on 22 public work items that are closely related to daily life, such as handling of pits in urban roads, handling of manhole cover damages, structural damages in the gutters of roads, handling of damages in gutter covers of roads, handling of broken street lights, handling of street tree problems, handling of pits in bikeways of river side parks, reporting noise in premises and facilities, reporting pollution, contacts for large-sized waste disposal, disposal of unattended garbage, dredging of gutters and flood drainages, handling of broken traffic lights, handling of broken traffic signs and reporting leakage or stoppage of household running water.

To service the hearing impaired personnel, the 1999 Taipei Citizen Hotline has provided hand language service by using Skype since June 1, 2010. This service can be accessed at home or 72 other civil departments including Taipei City Hall. Once the citizen is connected, he or she can enjoy the service of 1999 just like any other Taipei City resident. To accommodate with the "People with Disabilities Rights Protection Act," the 1999 Taipei Citizen Hotline has worked with TamKang University visually impaired department and have recruit 12 visually challenged staff which has started work on August,2012 offering consultation of workers rights.

With the innovation of these service contents and the upgrading of service quality, the 1999 Citizen Hotline can be expected to become a one-stop service window that is easily accessible to citizens.