Springfield is about to launch a smartphone app that the developer said will put taxpayers directly in touch with city services.
Springfield Budget Director Bill McCarty is also the president of the startup company Gov 311, which produces customized smartphone apps. McCarty said the idea came to him when he sent a picture of a pothole taken with his smartphone to the Springfield Public Works director, who told him, “ ‘We can’t be everywhere at once. There are potholes all over. We have limited staff, hundreds of miles of roads. We need the citizens to help us find these problems.’ And that was sort of my lightbulb moment, as it were. I thought ‘OK, there’s an app for everything; there’s got to be an app for this.’”
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McCarty said the app will make the city more accountable to taxpayers by allowing citizens to follow the progress of their reports.
Springfield-area car dealer Green Family Stores is paying the startup fee and the first two subscription years for the Gov 311 app, for a total of $4,000.
Green Marketing Director Rachael Buraski said the business was happy to help.
“Green wants to give back to Springfield. Springfield has been great to us, great to Todd Green. It’s time to give back. We’ve been doing that for a few years in little ways, but why not help lift the burden a little bit?”
McCarty said Springfield residents can use the app to report a variety of problems, from utility concerns to infrastructure issues.
Buraski highlighted a function that drivers will surely use.
“You can report potholes, so maybe we’ll see a few less flat tires in our shops,” Buraski said. “We’re OK with that.”
So far, customized Gov 311 apps are being used by smaller municipalities across the state, including Sherman, Godfrey and Carterville.