The 4-1-1 on 2-1-1, 3-1-1, 4-1-1, and 9-1-1


Have you ever wondered why municipalities differentiate their services to numbers ending in 1-1 such as 2-1-1, 3-1-1, 4-1-1, and 9-1-1?

Many residents don’t know it but each number offers a unique service and can be used in different situations to simplify your lives. Some you may be aware of and others you may not. Here is a list of what will happen if you call each on your telephone.

211 – Information and referral helpline to community, social, government and health services. Call 2-1-1 for food banks, crisis services, housing assistance centres and much more. For a full list of services handled, please visit

311 – Customer service and municipal information hotline. The City of Ottawa’s 3-1-1 line can also be contacted at and handles service requests such as: reporting potholes, parking ticket inquiries, blue/black/green box requests, noise complaints and much more. For a full list of services handled by 3-1-1, please visit

411 – Telephone directory and business listings. Also visit to track a business or public phone number.

911 – Emergency-ONLY number for police, fire and ambulance. For all other inquiries, please visit the Ottawa Police website here.

Try to make the most of each service as needed to make your information search a little less stressful. For more information on these numbers and the services they provide, you can click here.

Did you know? In an effort to make a universal emergency number a reality, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) partnered with the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (also known as AT&T) in late 1967 to assess what the number should be. After deliberation, AT&T proposed in that the numbers 9-1-1 should make up the new universal emergency phone number as 9-1-1 is short, easy to remember, and can be dialed relatively quickly given the few digits. This was particularly important in old-style rotary/pulse-dialing phones, which were still popular when the 9-1-1 system was first implemented.