Carmel smartphone app stalled in development


At the Jan. 7 Carmel City Council meeting, the department of community services assured members that Carmel’s smartphone application will be completed this year.

However, council member Ron Carter said he had been waiting to see progress on this project “for the last three years.” The mobile app was intended to simplify the reporting of local concerns such as potholes, high grass or weed growth and building code violations.

Department director Mike Hollibaugh stated that a Nevada-based company, App-Order, was contracted in September 2011 with an October deadline.

“We’ve not hit those deadlines,” Hollibaugh said. “We’re still far behind.”

App-Order is a mobile applications developer whose website states, “You get your app in record time.” Clients include cities such as Phoenix, Ariz., and San Antonio, Texas.

These cities use App-Order’s citizen reporting application to manage growing graffiti issues. The app uses the smartphone’s GPS to provide city departments an instant work order. Citizens can include a photo as evidence.

“I’ve been able to track the history of the project,” Hollibaugh stated. “We’re very close to having the product.”

Carter described a project that started as a customization of SalesForce customer relationship software.

“That didn’t work out quite the way we wanted it to,” he said.

“Early last summer … I asked the department of community services when we were going to get a system that (citizens) could conveniently use to let the city know about concerns they might have,” Carter said.

Carter encouraged the department to “get on the stick.” He had contacted App-Order and was told the app was finished and waiting for directions from community services.

“Let’s get this out so we can use it,” Carter urged director Hollibaugh, “So the citizens can use it.”

The Morgan Stanley Mobile Internet Report predicts that mobile internet usage will surpass desktop internet usage by 2014. The report indicates that half of local searches are now performed on mobile devices.

Carmel organizations with established mobile apps include the Chamber of Commerce and Carmel Dad’s Club FC Soccer.  These apps were developed by Carmel-based My Mobile Fans.

Established in 2011, My Mobile Fans is a finalist for both the 2012 Tech Point MIRA Award for new media excellence and innovation and an Emerging Business of the Year award.

Company founder Andy Dalton confirmed his team had the capabilities to create a citizen engagement app and would have been pleased to create one for Carmel.

“One of our primary values is partnering locally and striving to only use local vendors,” Dalton said.

In 2010, the town of Fishers launched a citizen engagement app through its web developer eGov Strategies. Indianapolis-based eGov serves New Jersey as well as the city governments of Key West, Fla., Coronado, Calif., and Nome, Alaska.

Fishers Communication Director Sarah Rittman explained the app was an extension of existing website services. A resident’s online review stated that repairs were made to a street sign within 24 hours of using the ReportIt! feature in Fishers’ app.

In March 2011, Indianapolis added a similar citizen reporting feature to the RequestIndy app.  The feature was an extension of existing services provided by Ohio-based Woolpert Inc.

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