Vernon Connect: The Power of a Customized Municipal App
Perhaps the greatest opportunity that arises from a municipal website redesign is the chance to re-engage with the public, delivering information that citizens need alongside news and alerts that can have an impact across the community. The City of Vernon’s website has helped to do just that, and with the launch of its Vernon Connect app in the App Store and Google Play this month, the City now has another tool to connect with citizens.
Vernon Connect arose from the City’s desire to implement push notifications for important events, emergencies, and other information of immediate value to the public. Having recently built the new City of Vernon site using a custom implementation of Drupal, Upanup proposed an application integrated with the Drupal API, which would streamline the publication of content and give the site’s owners complete control over which information appears on the app.
Using the framework developed during our refresh of the City’s website, notifications, events and other pre-defined information categories can now be automatically published to the app whenever updates are made to the site. This ensures that the app is always relevant and up-to-date without duplicating work for the City’s communications team. The content categories used to populate the app can be customized moving forward, so the City can always control which information is pushed directly to users.
In addition to information pushes, the app also receives data from users, creating a two-way dialogue that can foster citizen involvement and improve city services. Vernon Connect’s ‘Report a Problem’ feature allows users to provide information and photos to the City – from vandalism, snow removal, and water quality issues, to potholes, power outages, and traffic signal malfunctions – through a feedback form routed to appropriate departments.
A detailed calendar of events from across the Regional District of North Okanagan makes it easy for users to share events and encourages engagement with the City's social media channels.
Both scalable and replicable, the framework used to develop Vernon Connect is a great example of one way that city and municipal website projects can add even more value to citizens, without dramatically shifting scope. Municipal apps like this one provide yet another avenue for engagement and a valuable, direct line of communication between local governments and their constituents.
Want to learn more about our municipal web solutions and app integration? Contact us today to find out how we can help increase your local government’s reach and impact.