A newly designed app for the city of Gulfport is pretty much ready to go and is awaiting review by council, which will likely look at it in the fall.
The app is part of the city’s effort to make itself more accessible via digital media to a population that communicates more and more via mobile devices such as phones and tablets. It will be added to a digital stable that already includes a website, Facebook page and YouTube.
“I actually have the prototype [of the app] on my phone and it’s in working order,” Dave Mather, the city’s director of Library and Information Technology, said Tuesday, August 2.
The goal of the app is two-fold, Mather said: to provide information to people interested in the city and to “work with citizens on every day mundane issues.”
He sat down at the library with this reporter to show her the app. She found it easy to use and chock full of information about the municipality, its services, staff, departments, civic organizations, points of interest, calendar of events, parks and more.
Highlights included a section of frequently asked questions and a feature that allows residents to report common problems, along with their location and photos. These include pot holes, animal issues, trash and debris, flooding and code violations. People can also make reservations for events and municipal facilities via the app.
”I anticipate bringing the cpp to city council following completion of the city’s annual budget process,” City Manager Jim O’Reilly said Tuesday, August 2 via email. “At this time, tentatively city council will be receiving the app at an October meeting.”
Mather said a “soft launch” of the app isn’t possible because once it’s published, it’s more difficult to make changes and council will likely have suggestions.
It has taken a little longer than expected to prepare the app, which was initially estimated to be ready in the spring.
“We had a coding issue with our calendar,” Mather said. “Also, because we did not have an FAQ set on our website we had to build one from scratch which took considerable time.” As of Tuesday, there were 74 FAQs on the app and more were being developed.
When it’s launched, the app will be available for download free of charge in formats such as those used by Android and Apple devices. Mather said the company that designed the app, GovQA, waived the $2,000 fee in exchange for a year-long contract to maintain the app at a cost of $225 per month.