San Marcos officials recently teamed up with web development company PublicStuff to launch a mobile app designed to keep residents and students better connected with the city.
The app, “SMTX Connect,” was released Sept. 25 and allows users to submit concerns, requests for service, questions and comments to city officials.
As of Oct. 23, the app has racked up 191 downloads from iTunes and has been downloaded 74 times from the Google Play store, said Trey Hatt, City of San Marcos communications specialist.
The app cost the city just under $50,000 for five years of upcoming service, he said. In the next five years, the app will receive development, maintenance and support from PublicStuff, Hatt said.
“It was a council-initiated project,” Hatt said. “This project was aimed for citizen convenience. It’s too soon to say with certainty how much staff time it has saved, but the app is integrated with our major work order systems.”
The app is designed to make the lives of residents simpler, Hatt said. When a request is submitted, it is sent to a designated person in the correct department to address the issue. The request is sent to the departments’ managers if it is not completed within three days, he said.
There is a “general request” category where residents can submit anything not specified under other categories. City administration will run monthly reports to see which categories are being used and which ones need to be added to the app, Hatt said.
“I’m not very good with technology,” said Allison Smith, a San Marcos resident for more than 20 years. “The app is real easy though. I made a noise complaint request just the other night.”
Other types of requests that can be made through the app include animal issues, fallen trees, park maintenance, graffiti removal, broken signs, sidewalk repairs, potholes and sewer problems, according to the city’s website.
The app has been in the works since September 2012, according to Hatt.
“We called other cities to inquire about the vendor during our research, and they are all pleased with them,” Hatt said. “The City of Philadelphia has been very innovative with their mobile app.”
The city administrative staff has the ability to update the app as needed, Hatt said. There are icons prepared for emergency weather and city events that can easily be changed in a matter of minutes to warn residents, Hatt said.
“I got the app a few days ago after I heard about it from a friend,” said Anita Gonzales, a long time San Marcos resident. “I live off of Craddock, and there’s always people speeding by my house. I made a general request, so hopefully something can be done about that soon.”
“SMTX Connect” is available for free on iPhone, Android and BlackBerry devices.