Residents will soon have another way to connect with the city of Casper.
At last week’s work session, the City Council approved a plan to implement a cellphone app by the end of the year.
City employees proposed the idea as part of the city’s goal to increase public engagement, said Micheal Szewezyk, the city’s information technology manager.
“We’ve beefed up the website, we are using Facebook diligently, and we are using YouTube for basically all of our videos of our council meetings and council work sessions,” he said. “This is basically an additional component.”
The app will link users to Casper’s website and send push notifications from the city, according to a memo sent to City Manager Carter Napier. Push notifications are messages that users can receive without opening the app. The memo states that the app will cost $3,500 a year for the city to maintain.
The city plans to eventually implement a more complex app that will allow residents to file service requests, said Napier.
“The idea is that when a person wants to file a complaint with the organization, they hit a button and it takes them directly to a screen… instead of having to navigate through the layers of the website to get to that,” he said.
Vice Mayor Charlie Powell asked if the app would interfere with those trying to access the website from other methods. Napier said it would not alter the website in any way.
The council considered holding off on implementing an app until the advanced version was ready.
“You’ll have people using it, but not to its full potential,” Councilman Jesse Morgan said. “Then they might discard it and then once it’s later available in its full functionality, it might just be something that’s not used.”
But Morgan concluded the city could promote the more advanced app once it was developed.
In recent years, the city has worked to improve communication with constituents.
Council members decided last year to start recording work sessions and sharing the footage online. Official meetings, which are held in the chamber area, were already broadcast on the internet and the government access channel.
Jolene Martinez, the assistant to the city manager, has explained that every citizen has a preferred method of communication.
“There is absolutely a group of people that prefer to receive their news from Facebook and there are other citizens who don’t...” she said. “We have many people who still prefer to get an old-fashioned letter.”