Interview with Amy Vickery, Public information Officer, City of Modesto, CA
The City of Modesto, California recently launched the GoModesto App in order to better serve today’s quickly growing mobile focused residents! GoModesto App features include translation into 17 different languages so Modesto can easily cater to the diversity within our community, it’s easy to navigate, and enables City staff to make announcements about upcoming City events. Check out our recent interview with Amy Vickery, Public information Officer, City of Modesto, CA!
How did the App project come about and how did you choose the name “GoModseto”?
About a year ago our IT department began to look at ways to better serve our residents and noticed that people were not finding things easily on the website and most times even a call into City Hall was not necessarily convenient. We have always strived to keep up with the technology trends and needs of our residents and had been working with a previous app provider that was providing an outdated service. We polled several community groups and held community meetings last fall to ask our residents about their desires and expectations fora potential new app. And to ensure they had a stake and ownership in the process, we also asked them to name it. We had about 250 people vote on the app name and that buy-in and engagement within the community was great to have because ensuring they had a sense of ownership was important to us.
We have since then launched the app with the name “GoModesto.” The app has allowed us to become more up to date, innovative and versatile, and also allowed for us to meet our residents’ needs using the technology they prefer and recommend.
Tell us about the App. Who is the provider and what are its features?
After researching several providers we chose the vendor Public Stuff. Some of the App’s best features center on the ability to connect immediately and directly to all sorts of city services. Residents can report street lights that are out, flooding, illegal dumping, vandalism, playground equipment status, and potholes. The App also allows for us to engage our residents on a positive level by including information that is going to shape our community, and even welcomes their bright ideas for innovation. For example the App provides information about City employment opportunities, a community calendar, and can use push notifications for pertinent information in the time of crisis. Other features include integration with ourCity Facebook page, multiple language translation (offering 17 different languages), allows people to submit pictures and enable GIS tracking to report service needs, and it also has potential functionality to report on our parking garage availability when large city-wide events occur.
One of the best features is the connection to City Leadership. All City Council Members photos, bios and contact information are built in to the app. If you have a pressing issue, you can email or call your council member from the app and not have to hunt that information down.
How have you determined its success? What measurements have use used?
Overall our plan is to keep our promises to our residents. We have set a metric for staff to respond to service needs from the application within 72 hours. We have set this goal with the expectation that there will be an influx in reporting that may potentially be hard to accommodate. Keeping this in mind, we plan to adjust our workflow accordingly to continue to produce the highest level of service possible. We also will keep in mind that this App has the potential to serve a broader audience then we traditionally reach on a daily basis. We will continue to track this data and evaluate which features and for what demographics we are better serving in this complex market we provide services to.
Were there any significant obstacle(s) when it came to rolling out the App?
Timing was one of the toughest obstacles. The rolling out of the App was a cross departmental effort and it was important that every team member be on board from setting deadlines to paying for certain features, even into the marketing of the App to residents. Therefore a great amount of time and effort went in to creating consensus and executing the plan to lead to a successful roll out. We also had to make sure that the team of back end administrators were familiar with the work flows and new technology.
What lessons would you suggest for local government interested in adapting this idea?
When it comes to selecting new technology, talk to your community and figure out how they would like to interact with you and your services – do not assume. Getting buy in from residents in addition to leadership really helped the organization as a whole to embrace and sell the project’s meaning and importance.
Look for GoModesto! app in the Google Play and iPhone App stores.