Gulfport’s new free app that allows people to access events or services information and report issues like potholes from mobile devices has been operating for about a month and statistics show it is catching on.
As of the morning of Tuesday, July 31, 59 people had downloaded the app and were using it on Apple devices while 64 have done the same with Android-based products, said Dave Mather, Gulfport’s director of library and information technology.
The application is a new way for the city to connect with all citizens including residents and visitors. It officially launched on Thursday, July 5 and a Facebook notice was published on the city’s official page on July 7. For more information and for links to download the app, visit mygulfport.us/cityapp.
Instead of people accessing several different online website and Facebook pages or calling the city during business hours, they can now use one mobile app for comprehensive Gulfport-related information or to make requests for services.
With the app, people can see directions to parks, locate the operating times for the library and marina, access a list of current events, search a repository of frequently asked questions, sign up to receive the municipal email newsletter and make a utility payment, said Mather.
When people create a login for the app, they will also be able to place non-emergency requests for services such as repairs to potholes or street signs, ask for removal of downed tree limbs in public spaces or report code violations such as tall grass, he said.
Like with other forms of communication with the city, information entered into the app is public record based on Florida law, he said.
“One of the things we can use the app for is to send out alerts to the public like where to find sandbags” in the event of a storm, said Mather.
People can also place detailed requests to reserve and rent city venues for events. Once the details are submitted, a city employee will quickly follow up on the request to facilitate a formal reservation on the city’s calendar, he said.
Mather and four other city staff employees monitor the information submitted. When needed, city staff will communicate with users through the app regarding the status of their requests, said Mather.
Mather had an initial meeting with app developers on December 29, 2015. After meeting with several vendors, the city chose to go with GovQA.
“One of the reasons it took so long to launch after the design was complete is Apple has a very stringent policy on getting these things through their app store. More so than the Android store,” said Mather.
GovQA is “well equipped to cater to a small city,” he said. The vendor for Pinellas County is SeeClickFix and though their app also provides information, the emphasis is on action requests.
“We wanted to be able to show off what the city has to offer and that’s what I liked about GovQA,” said Mather.
Mather will be working with GovQA and reviewing citizen usage statistics on a monthly basis. Based on usage, potential changes to design and offerings will be addressed, he said.
For more information about the city’s application or to get technical help, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Kristin Ossola, technical events specialist, at 727-893-1118.