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Local

City government will go mobile: Sterling gets ready to launch app

STERLING – Residents soon will have City Hall in the palm of their hands.

City officials are working with a mobile app company to better connect residents with city government. Madison Hans ended her summer management internship with the city Monday, with a presentation on the status of the project she had headed up.

Hans had worked with My Civic Apps, a Huntington Beach, California-based company that develops and maintains the platform. It lets users report problems, request services, and engage with the city on important issues.

“The nice thing about this is they do all of the work,” Hans told the City Council. “If there are any changes or updates that need to be made, we just have to ask them.”

While there are myriad uses for residents, the app holds great potential for streamlining certain areas of city operations.

The city is perhaps most excited about its capabilities for code enforcement duties, Hans said. Residents can lodge a violations complaint via the app, and then follow the process through to resolution without having to call or visit City Hall.

The GPS feature can be used to pinpoint a location and include photographs. For example, if a resident sees graffiti it would like to see cleaned up, they can show staff exactly where it is and attach a photo of the problem area.

“Code enforcement can then reply and tell them what action is being taken – they can view the progress on the app and don’t have to call repeatedly,” Hans said.

The mapping feature can be used for anything from garbage pickup routes to sharing special events locations.

The app is now in its beta phase, as staff plays with it to get out the bugs and make changes before the launch. The app will work with iPhones or Android smartphones.

The launch is at least 6 weeks away, City Clerk Marie Rombouts said. It will make life easier for staff answering phones, but it should also ease residents’ frustrations, she said.

“It should definitely save us phone time, but people will get faster answers because they won’t have to leave a message and wait for someone to call them back,” Rombouts said.

The city will be able to send push notifications to residents, alerting them of emergency situations or issuing reminders of road work that could be an inconvenience.

Live feeds from social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter will be linked with the app. The city also plans to include a directory for dining, shopping, and local businesses. 

Residents also can email photos to info@sterling-il.gov for possible use on the app, City Manager Scott Shumard said.

MORE INFORMATION

Go to mycivicapps.com/solutions/mobile-apps/ for more information about the company's mobile app platforms designed for city government.

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