The City of Vancouver has launched a new mobile app, and it was made by a U.S.-based company.
New York-based PublicStuff, which was recently taken over by California-based Accela, has also produced similar apps for Philadelphia, Newark, Long Beach, and a bunch of other cities.
Vancouver's version, called VanConnect, is a free download for iPhone and Android.
Perhaps the app's most interesting feature is that it allows residents to easily report select types of issues, like a dead skunk or pothole, to city staff.
The app uses the phone's GPS to record the location, and the user takes a photo, writes some details, a hits "submit request". Users will purportedly be notified when their request is dealt with.
A news release from city hall describes the app's other major features:
- Use the waste wizard search function to find out if an item is recyclable or garbage
- See current road closures using an interactive map
- View recreation maps that lists where all the City’s parks, community and fitness centres, ice rinks, arenas, skateboard parks and swimming pools are located
- Access online services for parking, dog licences, trade and building permits, employment opportunities and tax and utility information
- Watch Council meetings through live streams and to contact the Mayor and Council directly
- Stay up to date on the latest news and calendar of events, with direct access to the City’s social media accounts.
In the event of an emergency, the city will also use to app to send out updates.
“We’re committed to opening up City Hall and making it easier than ever before for residents to access City services and engage with our community,” Mayor Gregor Robertson stated in the release. “The new VanConnect app provides faster and more convenient opportunities for residents to stay informed, get involved and make daily life even better in Vancouver neighbourhoods.
“Whether you want to report a pothole, find your nearest fitness centre, check upcoming road conditions, or send an idea to City Council, the launch of the VanConnect app means that all the information you need is only as far away as your smartphone.”
If you want to speak to a real person or have an issue not covered by the app, you can still telephone 3-1-1 between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., seven days a week.