“There’s an App for That,” by CitySourced.
CitySourced (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook) is an enterprise platform that provides governments with a complete native mobile app for residents to communicate with every department of their community: Mobile | Web | 311 | CRM.
8 Use Cases for a Mobile App
We are incredibly bullish on the possibilities and use cases for a mobile app. On average, people use 9 apps/day and 30 apps/month; the total number of mobile app downloads in 2017 is projected to be 197 billion!
Apps can impact and improve the delivery of services from local government. However, like any new technology, we shouldn’t just promote their use globally and blindly without first truly understanding how a smartphone app can increase a resident’s user experience while also providing a benefit to the agency offering the app. Below we’ve outlined examples of some of the best use cases for a mobile app.
It’s incredibly important to note that we’re big believers of avoiding app sprawl. We believe that you can provide a combination of mobile services in a single application platform rather than build, deploy, maintain, and market individual apps. Thinking proactively about the app platform prevents bad user experiences.
#1: Pet Licensing App
The smartphone makes transactions such as renewing a license really simple. Now pet owners have an app that will remind them when the pet license will expire. They can also snap a pic of their pet so the city will have a photo on file in case the pet gets lost or is involved in an altercation with another animal.
The pet owner will never have to worry about the annoyance of a paper-driven process and the city can increase pet permitting and fee (not flea) collection rates.
#2: Mobile Parking
In most big cities across the US, parking is a challenge. Added to that is the difficulty of paying for the parking; if you’re lucky you can use a credit card, but more often you’re digging through your center console looking for loose change. In addition, you sometimes have to enter in personal information, your license plate number, or parking stall number. There are too many flavors of paying for parking.
A smartphone app already has all of your personal and payment information stored in the palm of your hand. What’s better, the app can be configured to remind you when your payment has expired and when you could potentially receive a parking ticket.
#3: Paying the Utility Bill
Imagine you’re on vacation with your family and you get a real-time dynamic push notification letting you know your water rate for the last 30 days was $45. This amount is right in line with your typical bill, so you open the message, hit a click-to- pay button, and your stored payment information ensures the bill is paid.
You’ve now received an alert about your bill, reviewed your usage, and because everything looks normal, hit a single button and your payment is transacted.
#4: Public Transit Pass
Often public transit has relied on creating its own currency, be it tokens, paper tickets, or plastic cards that have to be tapped and refilled. All of these are an unnecessary intermediate that adds friction and complication to the rider’s process. In addition, there is an expensive investment by your local transportation system to install all of the hardware to support the various forms of payment.
Imagine now that you could simply step onto a bus, light rail, or subway by holding your phone over a RFID enabled terminal inside the public transit. No more filling up specific cards or running back to a kiosk to purchase the correct ticket. You simply get on and use your phone. The app knows who you are, has your payment information stored, automatically knows the correct type of ticket to issue you, and will deduct payment immediately. Bon voyage!
#5: Hunting or Fishing License
It’s incredibly important that natural wildlife is protected and that we promote the collecting of necessary outdoor fees related to hunting and fishing licenses. Can you imagine an app where you can actually have all of that license information stored on your device?
Wildlife Service could also push out information about types of animals that are allowed under your license, data about where these animals are located, and information about the official hunting season. Conversely, you can pull up the license in real time if a ranger ever has any questions about what license has been purchased and avoid the whole mailing process.
Outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen could be in the car on the way to one of these outdoor activities and renew the license during the road trip. Today’s process is incredibly reliant on old-school paper and mail process and begging to be updated.
#6: Parks & Rec Events Pass
Parks and Recreation departments provide wonderfully enriching programs for their communities, but many agencies still rely on paper applications, physical payments, and snail mail to register. Often, they also require registrants to check-in to each class.
A class pass app enabling online registration, payment, and real-time check-in is much easier and more efficient. The programs are automatically tied into the cities existing event system, and it tracks what classes residents sign-up for and how many credits we have.
It also provides rich information to departments about its users and allows for future outreach about activities or programs based on my age and interest.
#7: Live Parking Permissions
This builds on #1, but helps the user understand where and when she can park. Using GPS information and the city’s parking database, the app helps residents decipher the sometimes cryptic parking signs. Some towns are notorious for street signs with variations on regulations based on day of the week, time of day, or residency status.
It gets unnecessarily complicated, but the solution is simple. A smartphone app can determine where to park using information that is already stored in the city’s parking database.
#8: 311 or Service Request App
This is one of the first use cases in local government for a smartphone app because a device captures location, images, and real-time data about issues such as graffiti or pothole. These apps streamline the process to submit issues and, if done correctly, they complete the communication loop by providing the user with status updates related to the ticket.
Some cities will start with a 311 app and build onto it to create a platform for their citizens and communities. Adding some of the other use cases mentioned here, agencies can create one app platform with tiles, avoiding app sprawl and confusion.
Use Case Warning:
Whatever the use, it’s important to avoid competing with existing consumer apps no matter how tempting it may be. Instead, focus on where your local expertise already exists and make that experience as amazing as possible through the use of smartphone technology.