Not all Evanston residents will be able to call the city’s new 311 non-emergency service number when it opens for business on March 1

Aldermen will hold a special meeting Monday night to review plans for the service, but Joe McRae, the assistant to the city manager who’s heading up the program, told residents at a community meeting this week that customers of AT&T’s new U-verse service will not be able to dial just three digits to reach the call center.

McRae said residents with AT&T traditional landline phones will be able to use the service, as will users of AT&T and most other cell phone services.

McRae said AT&T has so far opted not to provide 311 connectivity through U-verse for Evanston or any of the three other communities in Illinois that have the call centers — Chicago, Schaumburg and Romeoville.

He said AT&T won’t disclose how many customers U-verse has in Evanston, but that based on franchise fee revenue to the city, it appears the product has been growing in popularity.

U-verse customers, or users of any other phone service that doesn’t permit dialing just 311 to connect to the center, can instead call a regular 10-digit number — 847-448-4311 — to reach it.

The 10-digit number is also what residents will have to use to reach the 311 center if they are calling from outside Evanston’s city limits.

McRae says he’s still in talks with some of the cell phone providers and with voice-over-Internet services like Vonage about whether they will be able to provide 311 connections by the March 1 launch date, but AT&T U-verse is the only one that definitely will not be on board.

(Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story had an error in the 10-digit number. That’s now been corrected.)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. 311 and U-verse

    Thanks for the heads up Bill,

    I better write that number down someplace

    I can’t dial 911 either I have a VOIP (Vonage) line

    — Manon Kavesky

    1. 911 and Vonage

      I oversee the 911 Communications Center for the City of Evanston and am a 30-year veteran of the Police Department. While unable to provision Vonage 911 VoIP calls early on, this is no longer the case. Vonage has been routing 911 VoIP calls via the dedicated wireline E9-1-1 network for the last 5 years in compliance with the Federal Communications Commission’s order that VoIP phones conform to the 911 standards applicable to traditional phones.

      Perry Polinski
      911 Communications Coordinator

  2. VRADS but No 311 service

    How ironic!!  Our esteemed State representatives in agreement with our city council gave us 90 ugly  AT$T VRADS/huge utility boxes gracing our green parkways throughout Evanston and now our city 311 service can not be accessed by anyone who has purchased this "advanced" AT$T service.

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