A service that helps people find community programs and services is getting wise to the fact that many in their twenties are averse to picking up the phone and dialing for information.
Nova Scotia’s 211 service recently partnered with studentsNS, an alliance of some Nova Scotia post-secondary students, to expand its availability and make itself more “millennial friendly”. People using the Nova Scotia service can now access online chat as well as texting services.
211 services are offered in the United States and all provinces except for PEI, Newfoundland, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories.
“For many Canadians, wireless communications are more than just a preferred method of communication; they are a lifeline. By offering citizens greater choice through text messaging, 211 NS is empowering Nova Scotians to access to the services they need. We commend 211 NS for their important work and wish them continued success,” said Robert Ghiz, president and CEO of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Company to The Chronicle Herald.
211 offers information on all sorts of government, social, and health services in various provinces and communities. iIt’s available 24/7 365 over the phone. The new texting based service and online chat are available between certain times every day.
“As soon as we recognized that millennials were underrepresented in the population 211 serves, we knew it was time to re-think our communications strategy. This move was critical to ensuring everyone is able to find the help they need when they need it,” says Mike Myette, 211 executive director.
Since it became available in 2013, the Nova Scotia 211 has helped 100,000 people over the phone and three times that amount through its website ns.211.ca.
“Students, especially those from other provinces or countries, can definitely benefit from having information about community services, and we hope adding 211 text and chat will make these services even more accessible,” says Sophie Helpard, the executive director of StudentsNS.
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The 211 service was launched in Atlanta by the United Way in 1997. Soon after, the FCC approved the numbers 511, used to help people navigate their way through traffic jams, and 211.
“It’s our hope that 211 and 511 for these purposes will become as ubiquitous as 911,” said FCC Chairman William Kennard at the time.
In the years that followed the 211 code became well used by those looking for shelters and food banks and also for support for the elderly and the disabled. The service was functional in all fifty U.S. states by October of 2011.
Canadian 211 services were approved by the CRTC in August of 2001 and first became available in Toronto in 2002. British Columbia 211 became available in 2010 and became the first province to offer text and chat services in 2015. Its phone based services were used over 56,000 times over 2015-2016.