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Firm Management

Apps We Love, August 2019: Cities & Local Government


What’s the first thing you do when you find yourself in a new city or town? Twenty-five or so years ago, you might ask someone for directions or look for a local visitor’s center as you enter the town. You could find the heart of the town by looking for a courthouse or see if there’s a street called “Main Street.” You might pick up a newspaper to see what’s happening around town. Or, if you were staying at a hotel, the desk clerk was probably your main source of information. A printed city map would be a useful tool as well.

Today, you head to the apps on your phone. There’s always a maps app which probably got you to this town in the first place and keeps you from getting lost. From there, it’s really up to the city directors to ensure that their local resources can be found. For some cities that will be done through a city website. Many others have created apps.

Mark Koziel, executive vice president, public accounting, at AICPA lives in North Carolina and reports, “Town of Wake Forest and Town of Morganton both have pretty good apps. I use both to keep track of local happenings. Wake Forest has a great communications director who drives much of the content and connection and really brings the app to life. I think that’s necessary.”

Start by searching for apps about your own city or town on Google (or your search engine of choice) and in the apps store. I live in Indianapolis, and an app search quickly directs me to Visit Indy – the official travel guide from our city’s tourism bureau. There I can find a calendar of current events around the city, recommendations for hotels and restaurants and attractions, videos, coupons, a blog, and the ability to mark favorites for future reference. The Visit Indy app is operated by a company called Simpleview out of Arizona (which recently merged with Tourism Media) – the company operates over 800 tourism apps around the world.

If you’re a local, you might want a municipal services app instead of a tourism app. East Peoria, Illinois, for example, has an excellent app called Access East Peoria. Here you’ll find information about local utilities, trash services, and code enforcement, as well as community news and events. The app is developed by PublicStuff which publishes apps for dozens of other communities.

Similarly, a company called GOGovApps produces apps for cities providing opportunities to report potholes or nuisances, and open communication with the local government offices. Apps include GoCoSprings for Colorado Springs, CO, Carson City Connect for Carson City, NV, Go Long Beach, for Long Beach, CA, and many more.

City of Burleson Texas is an app that provides news, events, emergency notifications, city council contact information, public meeting agendas, online payment options, trash pickup information, and much more. The app is an example of apps created by CivicPlus, a company that creates software platforms including apps for more than 3,500 cities in the U.S., Canada, and Australia.

So, if you’re looking for local city information, start with searches for apps.

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