Cities turn to apps to connect their citizens

BY GreenBot Staff

Published 22 Jan 2014

Cities around the world are testing adopting mobile technologies to connect to citizens in new interesting ways. Nice, Singapore Barcelona, for example, have introduced smart technologies designed to help citizens navigate their cities optimize their time. niper Research anticipates that the next 12 months will see a host of other cities follow suit, resulting not only in increased efficiencies but also in new business opportunities.

Beverly Hills is a good case in point. David Schirmer, Beverly Hills CIO, says the city “is committed to being among the smartest safest cities in the world. Increasingly, projects undertaken by a municipality have a very strong technology component – from lice Fire 911 dispatch systems to field crew work order asset management systems, parking systems, eGov applications, communication systems, so on. The CIO’s role has exped beyond the care feeding of servers, networks switches, desktops, communications systems, to providing e-Business strategy to the enterprise to facilitate operational efficiency effectiveness.”

Mobility is key.

“As technologists, we think a lot about how best to make meaningful information available to our workforce the public, early on we saw mobility as the new computing platform that could make information available anytime, anywhere,” Schirmer says. “Over the past year or so, the city has focused significant attention on developing mobile apps that extend the city’s eGov offerings to the mobile platform. Some of the offerings available include live on-dem video of Council Commission meetings, augmented reality that showcases local businesses, city events attractions, so on. feel that this is just the beginning.”

Beverly Hills recently surveyed its residents businesses on issues facing the community traffic parking were identified as top concerns, Schirmer says.

“To help address this we developed tools that mine our parking system database for real-time space availability in our parking facilities. Then the data is made available for consumption by web mobile applications dissemination to the public,” he says. “Quickly easily communicating real-time parking availability via a smartphone has a beneficial impact in terms of user experience, environmental sustainability, efficiency, with the very real potential of improving economic development.”

The rkMe app

s Angeles is using rkMe to help eliminate street congestion.

The s Angeles Department of Transportation (DOT) has been working with California-based Streetline, a smart parking solutions company, to install hockey puck-shaped sensors in hundreds of metered spots in Beverly Hills, downtown s Angeles, Hollywood Venice.

Residents can then use Streetline’s rker app for Android iOS smartphones to find available parking have the app guide them to those locations. The app shows both on street garage parking, for the latter shows hours of operation, pricing any restrictions.

DOT also engaged rkMe for the city, a provider of navigation parking data, last year in efforts to enhance its A. Express rk program. The rkMe App for Android ione devices delivers recommendations of the best places to park around the user’s location.

“Studies have shown that in congested commercial areas, 30 percent of traffic is caused by people circling looking for a place to park,” said Mike Bonin, of for Bill Rosendahl, chairman of the s Angeles Transportation Committee. “If people start using this app, it will make driving easier in s Angeles for all of us.”

There have been challenges along the way, Schirmer admits. For example, Beverly Hills was an early adopter of smart parking meters that accepted credit debit cards. ile the program has been well received has served as the model for other communities, “one of our challenges has been that technological advances have outpaced the useful regard of these meters. This is to say, new smart meters have better networking capabilities, better power systems, are much better at detecting if the space parking space is occupied.”

But Schirmer says mobility will continue to feature prominently in the city’s five-year technology plan. Some potential enhancements include security video integration, expansion of blic -Fi to the commercial areas of the city, Android development of new eGov eDemocracy applications on mobile platforms, so on.

In terms of other applications, the city envisions providing mobile apps to field to facilitate access to information needed to work more efficiently effectively. For the public, Beverly Hills’s goal is to create an environment for conducting business with the city as streamlined as possible whether that be via a smartphone, tablet, the website, or in person.