City app aims for late February launch

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Carmel Community Services Dept. director Mike Hollibaugh announced that the city’s smartphone app should be launched by late February.

“It has taken longer than we planned to bring it to life,” Hollibaugh said. “We’ll be working the bugs out through early February 2013 so it will be middle to late February before we are fully live with it.”

The app will be a free download available for both iOS and Android users.

“This app will allow citizens to use a mobile phone or tablet to inform the city of problems, including logging photographs,” Hollibaugh said.

Council member Ron Carter expressed dissatisfaction with the project’s progress at the year’s first council meeting.

Hollibaugh stated that official development of a smartphone app started in September 2012 with App-Order, an application development firm based out of Las Vegas.

“It’s been three to four months,” he said. “It takes time to develop an app that will also track all of our cases and prep form letters.”

Hollibaugh said the project emerged from discussions between Councilor Carter and Mayor James Brainard. Discussions highlighted a need to expedite citizen concerns to the department of community services.

Once discussions included the department, members initially considered a web portal software system. Hollibaugh explained this fell short of their goal for a solution with a “broad level of accessibility from multiple platforms and devices.”

Scheduling conflicts caused additional delays. Quality customization required the input of all department inspectors.

Additionally, the customization process took longer than anticipated.

“It is our preference to take a little longer to develop an excellent product for our citizens and our inspectors rather than roll out an app that doesn’t fit our needs and may require further development,” Hollibaugh said.

While cities such as Phoenix, Ariz., and San Antonio, Texas, use App-Order’s citizen reporting application to manage graffiti issues, App-Order has worked with community services to customize features to reflect the needs of Carmel.

“We are working with App-Order based on their success with this specific type of application, related to municipal code enforcement and property maintenance software,” Hollibaugh said. “App-Order fit our program goals for a user-friendly app solution with a well-developed case management component. It was also very reasonably priced.”

According to Hollibaugh, App-Order’s track record with municipal clients provided the project an instant platform allowing for time and money saving. Overall, the price to the city will be less than $3,000 annually.

Carmel residents will continue being able to contact community services by phone or e-mail.


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