By letting citizens get information about road conditions, pay for parking and complain via iPhone apps, city governments in the UK have reportedly saved about $350 million (£230m).
According to a report released by the The Local Government Association (LGA), in 2009 these apps cut city operating costs considerably. There’s a wide range of iGovernment apps involved, from five city councils who put the hygiene ratings of local eateries on iPhones to real-time info about bus schedules and vandalism-complaint apps that require the snap of a picture to send the info to city hall.
“Whether it’s bin men working smarter, fewer phone calls to inquiry centres, freeing up staff from time-consuming checks or reducing parking ticket machine maintenance costs, making the most of modern technology and data sharing has seen huge cash savings across the country,” said David Parsons, chairman of the LGA’s improvement board, in an online statement.
Parsons also added that he expects that further use of iPhone apps could potentially save city councils up to $569 million (about £372 million) by 2014-15.
In the US, a number of city governments have also gone app happy. If you’re lucky enough to live in Pittsburgh, you can report stuff like potholes, graffiti and other everyday annoyances straight to city hall via an iPhone app called iBurgh.
Peeved Pittsburghers first download the app, gratis on iTunes. First time users need to fill in name, phone number, email and home address – stored automatically for logging future complaints.
Users snap pics of traffic gridlock, abandoned cars or whatever. The photos are geotagged and sent immediately to the city complaint hotline 311. Officials hope that if enough people use the app (they already get about 200 rants a day) they’ll have a cluster map of trouble areas to plan for future maintenance and repairs.
Boston was one of the first US cities to let angry citizens file complaints about potholes, graffitti and missed trash pick-ups via iPhone.
Boston’s Citizens Connect, which city officials say has been downloaded 5,000 times since it’s October 2009 debut, won’t be the only way people can let city government know what’s awry in their fair city. The Cradle of Liberty also aims to be the city of smartphone apps thanks to a new one called Boston Urban Mechanic Profiler, or BUMP.
It’s still under development, but the general idea is that instead of using bumping to exchange your phone number with that cute denizen of the coffee table adjacent, by bumping fists with their phones drivers or bicyclists can quickly and easily report road conditions to city officials.
To bridge the iPhone divide – wealthy areas get bumped a lot, poorer areas not at all – officials are considering equipping city workers who live in less affluent neighborhoods with iPhones so they can boost the bumps.
Do you think that these iPhone apps make local government more efficient?
Sources: ZDnet, LGA, Bill Peduto