Though she had never built a mobile application before, Oro Valley’s Lisa Gallardo volunteered to step up and learn how. In doing so, she kept the process in house, helping to keep costs low.
Gallardo, the new media developer for the Town of Oro Valley, spoke up during a meeting where officials discussed developing a mobile app that would keep the public informed.
“What we wanted was a real simple, basic app that targets our four main audiences, which is government, business, visitors, and residents,” Gallardo said. “And just provide an easy way to get to the most visited information.”
Using analytical web traffic data, the town took the top searched and trafficked areas of its website and loaded that information into a user-friendly mobile app, which is set to be live on the Android and IOS platforms this month.
The town’s website already converts its information to be mobile-friendly when someone accesses it on a tablet or a phone, which accounts for about 30 percent of the web traffic. Creating an app gives people within the community access to the top information without the need to be tethered to a cellphone carrier or Wi-Fi.
Upon opening the app, people will have immediate access to council profiles, contact information, a directory of town staff, upcoming events, maps, what is new, and public safety.
Citing her personal preferences, the app uses the least amount of permissions necessary to operate. It doesn’t ask for your location or email, and isn’t pervasive.
“It’s very permission-friendly,” Gallardo said.
To outsource the development and creation of an app like the one Gallardo developed would cost around $10,000 up front, with an expected $2,500 each year there after to maintain it. Gallardo added that these prices were on the low end of the spectrum.
“We’ve been able to keep costs down and our branding was really important, too. We wanted it to look the same and we wanted the end-user to have a consistent experience from the web to our mobile app – any way that they interact with us online.”
Gallardo said with using another company to create the app, that company would have the option of putting its logo and material on the application rather than the town’s.
In taking the initiative, she was given the freedom she needed to be creative.
“Web and mobile development allow me to be creative. It’s the opportunity to build something from scratch, merging my technical and graphic design skills. And it’s an awesome feeling to see what you’ve produced being used out in the real world.”
Gallardo also has now gained the knowledge of how the app was put together. In the event of another mobile device being launched onto the market or a different operating system, she will be able to create the app for those devices rather than having to pay the developers additional fees.
In the event the town redesigns its image, Gallardo will also be able to modify the app so it continues to be a cohesive with the rest of the town’s sites.
The Oro Valley Police Department has also launched its mobile presence in response to a rising trend among other police departments.
MyPD is the name of the app the department now pays $500 a year for. It is the least expensive and most commonly used app for police departments, according to Public Information Officer Lt. Kara Riley.
The app pushes out information that is already on the website, but also includes some additional features.
“It allows people to look at certain things that are specific to the agency and also can submit a tip, ask questions specifically of the chief, or about traffic, or our schools, or what ever the case may be,” Riley said.
It also includes crime reports, sex offender registers.