Cities Increasingly Turn to Mobile Apps

Portland, San Jose and Raleigh have all introduced new mobile apps for residents seeking information about crime, transit and maps/real estate. Read on for details of implementation and usage


What Happened?

The San Jose Police Department launched the CityConnect mobile application that provides social media tools and online resources to residents on-the-go. Users can access local maps indicating where recent crime activity has taken place, as well as sent anonymous tips to law enforcement professionals regarding illegal activity in the community.

The Goal

Cities nationwide are following the lead of San Jose and adopting CrimeReports to enable alerts to be sent to law enforcement and the public via mobile messages. Updated every 24 hours, CrimeReports is an efficient way to maintain communications and update residents on criminal activity to increase safety. Users can track criminal reports and activity on interactive maps, making it easier for residents to avoid dangerous situations while updating law enforcement in the field with the latest developments, trends and behaviors being reported.

In addition, users can create customized alerts that send a message whenever criminal activity occurs in a specific location. The local police department is able to share crime-related news or launch awareness campaigns via the mobile app, as well as spread the word about various community activities regarding safety. The real-time communication tool is relieving some of the burden on law enforcement departments which are already experiencing low staffing numbers and budgetary restrictions.

Portland App For Transit

The city of Portland has teamed up with TriMet to release a mobile app that enables users to buy public transit tickets from their smartphones rather than waiting in line prior to boarding. The mobile app accesses digital payment information to complete the transaction to create a paperless purchasing process. Users can also enjoy an interactive map trip planner so taking public transit, biking and walking throughout the community is easy. In removing ticket machines and maintenance costs, Portland expects to save millions in transactional costs.

Benefits of the TriMet app include:

  • One-time entering of payment information
  • Options to pay for fares on daily, weekly or monthly basis
  • Availability on iOS and Android systems
  • Access to a plethora of transit maps and schedules
  • Planner tool to determine the best route
  • Service alerts in the event of repairs or other delays

Maps App In Raleigh

The city of Raleigh has also created a mobile app that offers mapping functionality also available on the city website. Users can look at photographs of buildings throughout Raleigh, look up deed information and access civil service data remotely. The mobile app will be especially useful for residents or individuals looking to relocate and interested in property information. Data available through the mapping include:

  • Property owner
  • Real estate identification number
  • Map layers
  • Zoning information
  • Soil types
  • Greenways
  • Topography data

The interactive maps make it easy for users to research community amenities such as services for schools, parks or museums. The maps can be used to view individual data points or several at a time to compare results.

Public Data Revolution

Gov1 has reported on the growing popularity of Big Data use and application in the public sector, and how the latest technology advancements are improving services to residents.