Cities, counties get an app for delivering services
YouTown puts local info into one place and lets users share it with each other
A new mobile application is trying to put the commentary back into the digital commons. YouTown is designed to help local governments provide citizens with wireless access to city and county services.
The service, scheduled to launch in January 2011, is designed to make it easier for local governments to provide community information and for citizens to access it. YouTown provides a customizable platform that allows users and municipal governments to set it to their specific requirements. It also offers access to a variety of information, such as a city's legal regulations and a search capability to quickly find maps, transportation services, local schools and libraries. The application will also have a social media feature that will allow citizens to share information about city events with each other.
Developed by the start-up firm DotGov, the YouTown beta version launched in October with a number of partner counties and cities, including Seattle; Morris County, N.J.; Chesapeake, Va.; Greenville, S.C.; Montgomery, Ohio; Enid, Okla.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Washoe County, Nev.
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Writing on the DotGov blog, Michael Riedyk, the company’s founder and CEO, said the application will allow local leaders to keep in touch with residents because its live feeds, maps and municipality-specific data are designed to foster a two-way communication between government and the people.
While most local governments have websites, they tend to be rather static and not geared toward providing the types of information that mobile users are looking for, Riedyk wrote. Many users often end up aggregating information from a variety of local sources, such as hometown news publications, Google Maps and local business sites. YouTown is designed to provide all of these services in one format.
Govtech reported that YouTown will offer local governments a free version that includes some maps and news feeds. But users will have to pay a subscription fee for more advanced services, such as feedback tools. The application will be available to all citizens for free download on smart phones, although Govtech said only the iPhone has been tested.