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Dial 211 – FCC clears new information service

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The Federal Communications Commission has set aside the phone number 211 to supply free access to health and human service information, much as 911 provides access to emergency services, the Associated Press reported July 21.

The 211 code will connect callers to specialists who would use a database to refer people to food banks, shelters, crisis intervention services and drug rehabilitation providers. The number could also link people to job opportunities and support for the elderly, the disabled, or children.

United Way of America and other groups had urged the commission to create the new number. The Atlanta area and the state of Connecticut, both of which already use 211, showed a 40 percent increase in calls after the switch from a ten-digit to a three-digit number.

Local utility regulators will decide who will be awarded the 211 number in each state.

Two other three-digit codes were also created by the FCC at the same time. The phone number 511 will provide local traffic information anywhere in the country, and 711 will connect to special operators to help the deaf and the speech-impaired make phone calls.

In related news. BulkRegister.com announced that it has donated domain name registrations for a series of possible Internet sites with “2-1-1” names to the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems.

The donation will enable the alliance, which is a group of community information and referral services, to reserve those Web sites for nonprofits that are involved with the 211 phone number.

For full story on the FCC, go to AltaVista. For full story on Bulkregister.com, go to AltaVista.

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