Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Pipeline: SLC Mobile App Gets An Upgrade

New additions and revamped tools make it a must-download.

Posted By on May 3, 2016, 12:20 PM

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Last week, the SLC Mobile App received a much-needed update. The city-operated system has been a go-to for reporting problems around town from graffiti to road debris, as well as a handy spot to pay your water bill on the go. But the remaining features were overlooked, and served little purpose for many. The latest update adds brand-new features not before utilized by the app, giving SLC natives access to more information at their fingertips.

In 2012, then-Mayor Ralph Becker announced plans for a city-run app. The first attempt fizzled out of the gate, and didn't garner much attention from users. Then, in early 2015, the public utility department started working with a group called City Sourced, which developed a new SLC Mobile app using the same tech it had cultivated building similar apps for Los Angeles and San Diego. The administration started working with City Sourced to develop more issue mapping, eventually leading to the launch of the new app in summer 2015.

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At the time, the app was released with little promotion, primarily used to report issues throughout the city, almost like a type of beta-run. The trial-and-error period showed how the app worked well with certain departments, and not so well with others.

“It works in a couple different ways,” says Civic Engagement and Innovations Manager Nole Walkingshaw. “One is we've got an integration system to our work order systems, and if that service doesn't have a work order system, then it goes in an email to them. Then those people can [respond] through the administrative console and report back to the app.”

The new updates to the app have transformed it into a multi-purpose app that SLC residents may find extremely useful. First and foremost, the reporting system has been cleaned up and receives regular updates. Let's say, for example, you find a city street sign knocked over. You can create a request on the comment screen that will allow you to add photos or video, then you're given a map where you use the GPS to mark where it has happened. After that, you can fill out a report type ranging from Biking Issues, Crime Tips, Potholes, Vehicle Violations, Leaf Collection and more. The report is forwarded onto the appropriate department, taken care of and cleared out. In essence, the city has streamlined the ability to report several issues and get them taken care of sooner.

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But that's not all the app is good for. Under the “General” option, you can see City Hall meeting information,  or apply to SLC jobs. You can pay your water bill remotely. There are interactive maps that show you all the locations for Greenbike stations, city parks, bike trails and watershed trails for outdoor activities. The Calendar interacts with Visit Salt Lake and gives you listings for what's happening that day (their site utilizes the Now Playing Utah calendar).

If you live in SLC proper or any of the subdivisions, this is a must-have app. It is completely free, and useful if you're looking to help clean up certain parts of the city or improve your area. You will notice that if you look at “Nearby Requests,” there are some things that haven't been updated; a look into my area showed that there are still several Snow/Ice Removal complaints “in progress.” But a great deal of them have been taken care of or are currently being attended to, which shows many of the departments involved are reading and responding. I view it as an “Occasional App,” like Moviefone. Do you use it all the time? No. But when you do, it serves it's purpose nicely.

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