Counties use smart phone technology
County governments are creating new ways to use mobile applications to deliver information and service to residents. From Florida to California, county officials are using smart phone technology to keep residents informed on everything from weather to taxes, according to the National Association of Counties (NACo).
In Lee County, Fla., a hurricane evacuation app — LeeEvac — can help smart phone users quickly evacuate areas threatened by hurricanes. The smart phone’s GPS device locates the phone’s position and displays the location on a map.
Once the county orders an evacuation, the app alerts users if their phones are in an evacuation area. Users also can get directions to nearby shelters.
“Social research shows us people aren’t good with maps anymore — they can’t find themselves,” Gerald Campbell, chief of planning for Lee County Emergency Management, told NACo. “If we take that step out and use the GPS to help the people find themselves on a map, that takes out a major obstacle for them getting to safety.”
Another mobile application in Pulaski County, Ark., makes it easier for residents to report their personal property taxes. Residents can use the app to report their personal property, such as vehicles or boats, without going into the assessor’s office. County officials say the change, instituted in January, has simplified the tax assessment process.
In Ventura County, Calif., a mobile app helps bicyclists find the most bike-friendly roads. The county transportation commission overlayed the county’s 350 miles of bike lanes over a Google Map. Bicyclists can access the information on their smart phones. They also can track themselves, monitoring their average speed and distance traveled.
Ventura County officials say the mobile app reduced the need for expensive, hard copy map updates on bike lanes. They are considering expanding the app to include map markers, showing places of interest and the grades of hills along bike lanes.