What’s the Difference Between 911 and 311?

In the basement of the Community Women’s Education Project in Somerset, Tess Donie of New Kensington Community Development Corporation handed out important business cards. This was the monthly meeting for Somerset Neighbors for Better Living.

While the meeting itself was a perfect example of the power of community (the meeting was packed with opportunities to collaborate, share information, and improve the quality of life) Philly311 was most impressed by the business cards created by NKCDC.

Simple and two-sided theses cards answer one of the City’s government’s most frequently asked questions: “What’s the difference between 311 and 911?” While 911 should be called for emergencies and 311 should be called for non-emergencies, the differences between the two can sometimes get confusing. Using two sides, the business card outlines reasons you should call each number.

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These reasons include:


  • Emergencies
  • Crime in progress
  • Drug activity
  • Provide information about a crime


  • Graffiti
  • Illegal dumping and litter
  • Potholes and broken sidewalks
  • Fallen trees
  • Streetlights out
  • Abandoned properties and vehicles

Tess from the NKCDC said that they wanted to display these differences in the form of a business card so that residents could literally carry around the information. The Philly311 Neighborhood Liaison Program team liked this idea so much that they printed 911/311 cards and will now be passing them out at community meetings, training’s, and other events.

The Philly311 Neighborhood Liaison Program trains community members to directly enter and track service requests in the 311 system. To learn more about the program, watch the “How to Become a Neighborhood Liaison” video:

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