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Clawson Could Become the First City in Michigan with an App

City government, businesses, residents, schools and visitors could benefit from a municipal application for smartphones, developer tells City Council.

GPS location directions for restaurants, streaming city TV and touch-to-call directory capabilities are three of the many features that could be included in a municipal mobile application compatible with smartphones – and a local developer wants to make Clawson the first city in Michigan to have one.

Stephen Thornhill from Kart Media Group, a Birmingham-based digital media agency that has designed apps for HGTV, presented his idea to the Clawson City Council at its regular meeting Tuesday night. He began by explaining that if the council agreed to move forward with the app it would be the first Michigan city to have one.

“People are starting to rely on their mobile devices more and more for information over their computers,” Thornhill said, citing a Nielsen study that revealed almost half of Americans mobile subscribers own smartphones. “Therefore, if the city adopted this application they are giving themselves an opportunity to get in on this technology before everyone else and reap the benefits of doing so.”

Thornhill identified four stakeholders in the application as:

  1. , which could use the app to stream council meetings
  2. , which could use an interactive calendar feature to remind people of school events
  3. businesses that could use it as a source of advertisement and to give GPS directions
  4. the wider community, including the , which could let potential customers know what vendors are selling each week.

“However, this is just a rough outline of possible features the app could have,” Thornhill emphasized. “We would work with all the parties involved to make the app best suit everyone’s needs.”

Thornhill estimated the application would cost the city a one-time fee of $8,750 with a $500 yearly fee for hosting. He said those numbers would change depending on how often information would need to be updated and if the city or Kart Media Group would be responsible for doing so.

“I love this idea and that we would be the first to have it,” Clawson Mayor Penny Luebs said. “I like the forward thinking nature of it and that fact we would be another venue for us to engage with citizens and visitors to our community.”

City Attorney Jon Kingsepp, who brought the representative from Kart to the meeting, said he talked with the city’s Chamber of Commerce, members of the school district and businesses, all of whom said they liked the idea.

“I actually haven’t had any negative remarks yet,” Kingsepp said.

He also thinks it might attract businesses to Clawson because they would be able to seek the advantages of being on the app. “However, putting it all together is the hard part,” he said.

Kingsepp said the next step would be meeting with the various groups that would be a part of the application and figuring out pricing and hosting issues. He said he would have a more detailed document explaining what exactly would be on the app and other considerations for the City Council before the end of July.

canseeallsides June 21, 2012 at 10:35 AM
First, let me say I encourage and appreciate the efforts to add tech connections in Clawson. But... Why so expensive on this project? Almost 10,000 and almost $50/month to make what basically amounts to a few web links in a closed proprietary graphical interface. Why not use "Free Software"? (similar to open source look up the free software movement) Why is the city attorney bringing vendors in instead of sealed bidding the jobs out to get fair and lower prices? Is this the norm? Is the app android and/or apple? Both have charges with "registering" where open source does not. Will the app be "free" meaning offset cost by everyone paying a share or will it cost per installation? I am all for tech conveniences but not at "we're first!" prices. This app could be a benefit if done right. But I would rather see funds go to adding simple web-based services on the already existing interface, if only for the simple fact of wider use. Smart phones would need to be online (at least sometime) to provide the features listed above and they could provide all those feature with web-based (a browser). Free software web-based apps you have both smart phone and PC access (wider access, cheaper cost). These are just questions and opinions.
Kurt Hack June 21, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Being in the business myself, I am all for tech companies making a few bucks. But, holy hell if the City didn't learn its lesson on the website fiasco and the outrageous costs involved with that!
Justsayin June 21, 2012 at 02:14 PM
I agree totally with the comment made by canseeallsides. Can someone tell us the cost for this vs the freebies out there?
mmerrick June 21, 2012 at 04:34 PM
I think this sounds like a great resource. I'm barely in front of my computer, and I just checked the city website from my phone, and you can hardly use it. And it seems like everyone is using their phones more these days, why shouldn't the city have this? It's a great idea.
Betty Jones June 21, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Traverse City has an app. I guess Clawson wouldn't be the first, eh?
jcwitt June 21, 2012 at 08:50 PM
I also work in technology, and I agree that it is important to weigh all the options, but 10k for a mobile app is a good price in my experience. I know that there are 'free' open source options, but who's going to do that? Does the city really have someone on staff who's an expert at this that can adapt and build the code, someone to design the graphics, and then market this? Free is usually a bottom of the barrel, clunky option when it comes to stuff like this. Most people get their apps from the app store (like iTunes and Google), not some random company overseas. I think they should do it.
Rockford Files June 21, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Rockford MI also has an app. In the app store, with the other apps. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/explore-rockford-michigan/id491709875?mt=8 It's hard to find this stuff out!
Rockford Files June 21, 2012 at 10:20 PM
Hmm http://youtown.com/

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