Innovation Roundup: Mobile Apps and Australian Local Government

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Innovation Roundup: Mobile Apps and Australian Local Government

This article looks at some of the innovative examples of mobile app use by Australian local governments.

Glenn Innes Severn in NSW, a small local government area of only 5,427 km2, was chosen to launch Aurora Research and Inland NSW Tourism’s AppnGo. This demonstrates an app that provides visitors to the area with 24-hour up-to-date information on products and services. Read more »

Randwick City Council launched a smartphone app (myRANDWICK), which differed from other council apps in regard to its unique customised approach that provides a user-centric experience in terms of important council information about each address and the suburb. While Randwick Council already received over 80,000 visits a year to its website from mobile devices, myRANDWICK allowed people to keep up-to-date with Council information (such as footpath and road upgrades and other events). Importantly it is fully integrated with Facebook and Twitter to allow users the ability to share content, and options to receive notifications about important events or developments. Read more »

The City of Perth had an Australian first via a mobile phone application and website that advises of parking availability in the City's car parks, including real time information about bay availability, height clearances, special parking rates and permit parking spaces. This had the benefit of saving time and stress and relieving congestion in car parks. Two further features of the app are 'Find my Car' and the 'Parking Meter Countdown'. 'Find My Car' can locate your car in a multi-storey car park and provides an alarm option, which notifies users when they have 30 minutes left on their meter. Read more »

Hurstville Council had plans to develop a free iPhone app to enable residents to access Council information through their mobile phone. According to Mayor Steve McMahon, the app gave residents and visitors an ability to stay in touch with the Council 24 hours viewing information from Council's website including news, what's on, reserves and parks, library services, and waste collection. It would also enable people 'to sit on a train and request a tree removal, check availability at local car parks before they start driving and even view the local bus timetable', and 'allow residents to report a problem in the community including potholes, damaged footpaths or illegally dumped rubbish in the suburbs'. The app, still going through its developmental phase, was scheduled to go live by mid-2013. It will be available for free download from the iTunes App Store with plans to develop a similar product for Android and other smart phones. Read more »

Adelaide's Centennial Park Cemetery utilised GIS technology that maps the geographic elements via an organisation's database into a universal and easy-to-understand language. This technology was demonstrated during the Queensland floods and through animal conservation efforts. It was Australia's first cemetery to use spatial technology to take its graveyard online. Visitors could now much more easily map locations amongst the 134,000 burials and memorial sites and obtain historical information including a person's age, when they died and where they last lived. The website later in 2012 would be complemented by a mobile phone application to allow visitors to navigate around the 40.5 hectare cemetery. Read more »

Further Reading: Other Popular Australian Local Government Apps

Further Reading: Lessons from North America

  • State Tech magazine has published a couple of articles relating to mobile app use by US local governments. Read here and here.
  • Mashable and Nation Swell have published a list of innovative mobile apps used by North American local governments. Read here and here.
  • Government Technolog has posted 7 mobile app development tips for local government. Read here.
Chris Lewis is Visiting Fellow at ANZSOG Institute for Governance.

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