The city of Danville today announced there is a new way for citizens to stay plugged into government, community services and local businesses while they are on the go.
Users of Android and Apple iOS mobile devices can access the latest city news, community events and information on city services – all in a mobile format. In addition, iOS iPhone users can report issues such as potholes in roadways and street light outages using their phone’s GPS technology, and they can look up community services and local businesses.
“These are free services,” said Inez Harville, director of information technology for the city.
Citizens can learn more about these mobile services, also known as m-services, at a workshop scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 1, in the auditorium of the Danville Public Library on Patton Street.
“At this workshop, we are going to go over the various types of information available to the public through their mobile phone and the ways they can get information,” Harville said.
By going mobile, Harville said the city is simply taking the next logical step toward making use of available technology to better connect with citizens. “We recognize the value of government-to-citizen communication, and the use of mobile technology is pervasive today,” Harville said.
Accessing the m-services requires citizens with smartphones, tablet computers and digital media players to download applications providing easy view of the public data on their mobile devices.
The city is publishing data through three applications: YouTown, CivicPlus Citizen Request Tracker and CivicPlus Resource Directory. Users may download any or all three of the applications, depending on the m-services they want to use.
YouTown is designed to help local governments provide citizens with wireless access to city services. Here is a quick look at what the city of Danville is currently offering on YouTown:
• City news – Keep informed with the city Public Information Office’s news releases and announcements and the Police Department’s activity reports and media releases.
• Community events – Learn about upcoming concerts, performances and cultural events posted to the online Community Calendar, www.danvillevaevents.com.
• Information on city services – Use this convenient tool for learning about refuse pickup, recycling, mass transit bus and Reserve A Ride, library programs and job opportunities.
“We tried to focus on making available data that people most frequently need information about,” Harville said. “There are descriptions of services, locations and contact information.”
Eventually, maps will be made available so that citizens can quickly find city buildings and landmarks, parks, libraries and other locations using the familiar Google Maps format.
Harville said another feature of YouTown is that it is universal.
“You can take the application wherever you go. If you are visiting another location, you can connect to the information they might make available.”
Conversely, visitors to Danville can use the service to learn about the city while they are on the go here.
YouTown can be downloaded at www.youtown.com/apps. The application is not yet available for BlackBerry-powered devices.
With CivicPlus Citizen Request Tracker, citizens who observe issues such as potholes, street light outages, sidewalks in disrepair, dead animals on roadways, abandoned vehicles and graffiti can submit a photo and description of the problem. Using the iPhone’s GPS technology, the app automatically pinpoints and sends the exact location of the concern.
The photo and description is routed to the city’s Citizen Request Tracker system. The system will generate a confirmation email, and it will allow citizens to view the status of their request, along with comments posted by city staff.
“This application will allow for any kind of complaint that a citizen would call through 411,” Harville said.
The application, however, is available at this time only for iOS iPhone users and not for Android and BlackBerry devices.
CivicPlus is a Kansas-based company that developed the city of Danville’s website, www.danville-va.gov. Through the city’s website, citizens can use electronic or e-services to pay taxes and utilities, check the status of applications and permits, register for Parks and Recreation programs, locate real estate, browse through job postings, and sign up for job notifications.
A business and resource directory also is available on the city’s website, and now through the CivicPlus Resource Directory the city is able to provide this online data in a mobile format.
“It has all of the businesses that we have on the website,” Harville said.
The city of Danville is incurring no cost in partnering with YouTown and CivicPlus for these applications.