A motion going before Vancouver city council next week proposes the development of a mobile 'City App' that could allow residents to provide public input, report bylaw infractions, and access other city information from their smartphones.
The motion, which will be introduced by Vision Vancouver councillor Andrea Reimer on February 14, asks city staff to report back on a financial analysis and timeline for a mobile app that would provide access to city information and services such as business licensing and recreation programming.
“If you’re walking by a rezoning application sign, having a QR code and just being able to go to the website and put your input in right then, if you’re a smart phone user, that would make a lot more sense to you than having to write it down, go home, look it up online, show up at a meeting, those kinds of things,” Reimer told the Straight by phone.
Reimer noted the app, which would work across common mobile platforms including Blackberry, Android and iPhone, could include other potential functions such as applying for a dog licence, or booking a field for a sports team. She added it could speed up the process of confirming bylaw infractions, which are currently reported through the city’s 311 phone service, particularly if members of the public were able to send photos and geotag their location.
According to the councillor, Vancouver has seen “an exponential and explosive growth in smart phones” during the last year in particular.
“We invested politically and structurally, and to some degree financially, in open data, 311, we’re doing a new website that’ll be launched in a couple of months, and that’s all great and really helps people get information and access to services and there’s enough functions, but if people are moving in droves to smart phones, we kind of need to keep up with that curve,” she said.
Vancouver mayor Gregor Roberton expressed his support for the ‘City App’ motion in a statement today (February 8).
“Vancouver is continuing to demonstrate leadership on how digital innovation can make a city more open, accessible and accountable to its citizens,” he said. “A new mobile ‘City App’ would make the City's key services accessible both quickly and more conveniently.”
Reimer said if the motion passes next week, city council will vote at a later date on whether to proceed with developing the mobile app.