The pros and cons of a downloaded app along with exactly what it should do will be part of City Council’s fall budget discussions.
Along with several other items, council voted in favour of putting the idea on the table following a presentation by Kiley Bear, acting Director of Corporate Services.
“It has value and there’s opportunity there,” said Bear during an Executive Committee meeting on Monday, Sept. 20.
She explained that certain city services like registering for youth activities, transit info – especially live tracking of the buses – or airline arrivals and departures are accessed frequently on the City’s website.
“An app brings them together in one location so you can find them easier,” explained Bear.
The City’s web traffic numbers show that 69 per cent of users are on a mobile or tablet.
An app also allows for push notifications, allowing residents to opt into notices that they see as alerts rather than an email or text.
Staff talked to the City of Moose Jaw, which is using an app already, and said they have seen a steady uptake of the app they launched in late 2020 with 7,157 downloads (representing 21.7 per cent of the population.)
Two options are currently being looked at by staff in the IT and Communications department.
The first, called My Civic Mobile App is what Moose Jaw uses. The app allows people to make a request for service. The website and app together create a database that allows staff to follow the requests and track their progress to completion.
It is GPS enabled and pinned to a map. The estimated cost to implement this version is $8,529 along with an annual $12,000 maintenance budget.
Alternatively the Citizen Portal, the option favoured by the department, goes further and allows users to create an account and customize their dashboard to the information they are interested in.
Examples used are one resident wanting only information on garbage and recycling times and road closures while another may opt to see their utility bills.
The estimated cost to implement this version is $10,000 along with an annual $19,000 maintenance budget.
Council voted in favour of sending the request to the budget discussions, but Councillors Blake Edwards and Don Cody were both opposed.