There is no central registry where local governments can report their use of a 311 or CRM system, so we don't have an exact count of how many centralized customer service systems exist in North America. But I've been digging through some data sources recently to try and get a better sense of what the 311/CRM universe looks like. I've reviewed a new ICMA survey on e-government practices, the Dispatch Monthly website, and the membership base of two ICMA's research partners--the 311 Synergy Group and the AGCCE--and have come up with some interesting numbers.
It appears that there are roughly 280 311 or CRM systems in the U.S. (265 systems) and Canada (15 systems). The largest city with a 311/CRM system is New York City with a population over 8 million, and the smallest appears to be Bethel, Alaska with a population of 6,080. (Remember we're relying on self-reporting mechanisms, so we still may not have a complete picture of all the systems that exist.) There are 7 joint city-county systems, 28 county systems, and 245 city systems. California has the greatest number systems in place with 41; Texas comes in second with 31 systems.
We've known for some time that majority of the largest cities in the U.S. were covered by a 311/CRM system, but it's surprising how many smaller local governments have seen the benefit of implementing a CRM system. 83 jurisdictions with a population under 50,000 reported having a CRM system in place.
In the past, the expense associated with implementing a 311/CRM system has held some smaller communities back from looking into implementation. But based on these statistics, it would seem that 311/CRM systems are moving to small and mid-sized jurisdictions all across North America. As is so often the case with technology, the cost of implementing a 311/CRM system has come down in recent years, and new Software as a Service (SaaS) applications promise to bring the technology to more jurisdictions without the necessity of purchasing new hardware and software that will become obsolete over time.