Mobile apps improve council interaction

SAM CLARKE
Last updated 12:00 21/07/2014

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Palmerston North people are getting on board with the city council's plans to digitalise the city.

During the past two years the council has worked to roll out mobile applications and a new website to help residents get in touch via the internet.

Palmerston North City Council's web administrator Hamish Richardson said the response had been positive.

There are currently four mobile applications in partnership with the city council.

MyParx helps people find and explore parks in their area.

Palmerston North company Frog Parking has introduced a tool that lets users find car parks and pay without using the meters, and property valuation and rating information is available through the Layar app.

FixIt PNCC is the only app in the suite specifically designed for the city and it helps residents let the council know about problems such as street lights that are not working, pot holes, graffiti and leaf litter.

In its four-month existence, more than 400 people have installed it on their devices, and an average of three people a day use it to submit service requests.

"We asked people about what services they'd like to see put online and overwhelmingly people said all of the above," Richardson said.

The app was developed off the back of a similar project in Wellington and cost the council a little under $5000.

Other councils have also reached out to get the app for their residents and ratepayers.

The production of the apps is centred around the introduction of a new website that will allow residents to interact online with the council, Richardson says.

The website will be updated with new features and services as well as being mobile-friendly.

"It's about making it easier to get things done online with city council, that's the end goal," he said.

The city council had plans to continue rolling out digital services like being able to submit building plans through the website, he said.

"Those are the kind of services we want to bring online. Paying your dog registration renewal and paying a parking fine online.

"We can do that already but we want to take that to the next step. We are aware there is a demand for that."

App developer and general manager of Trio Technology, Nick Crossman, said that he supported the city's plan to grow its digital accessways.

"As far as interacting with council goes, it's a good idea," he said.

"The hard part is getting stuff out there but it's a good investment. It increases the amount of interaction with the right people."

The applications are available on all Apple iOS and Android smart devices.

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- Manawatu Standard

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