Why cities need a city mobile app

March 12, 2014

The world we live in is now mobile-first. People use their phones to power their days and the number of smartphone users outnumbers the basic phone users. Local governments are starting to catch wind of these developments and are adapting their services in the mobile world. Along with a responsive site, cities should also consider building an app for their citizens. Here is why:

Improve civic life:

Developing an app that can improve the civic life in a city is great for moral in the city. The types of apps a city may develop for a city could include traffic and road conditions or a top events app. Developing an app like this for a city means really understanding the citizens. Calgary in Canada developed a City of Calgary Pets app that has appealed to over 10,000 citizens in the city curious about adopting animals or care for their animals. This app worked for this city and is now another way for the city to communicate.

Real-time data:

During election time, it is important for citizens in a city to stay up-to-date on developments with each campaign and the results. A mobile app can enable users to get election votes in real time. Mobile apps can also contain calendars, fees, forms and office contact numbers for any government services. Citizens could adjust their jury service dates; fill out driver's license forms and much more via a city app.

Culture and History:

A city app can contain all the history and culture of a city, with interactive maps, guides and event ideas. If the city had a particular artist associated with a lot of the design and architecture, such as Gaudi or Banksy, the app could include a walking tour to see all the top sites for this artist. This information would appeal to both citizen and visitor. The Art Mapper app is a great example of how this theory has worked for a city app.


A city app can make it easy for residents to complain or report issues around the city by simply snapping a picture and sending it to the local government. If some graffiti has ruined a local park, citizens can easily take a picture and complain via an app. On a more positive note, if the city is celebrating a festival or there is just a gorgeous sunset, locals can submit their pictures for the whole city to enjoy.


A lot of the time, citizens aren't aware of all the events happening in their town and a mobile app is a great way for locals to search for and review restaurants, hotels, shopping, nightlife and parks. Sparks in Nevada is one of the first city's to launch a city app like this that is useful to both residents and visitors alike.

Data roaming:

For most citizens of a city, data roaming won't be an issue, however for visitors, data roaming can be expensive. With a mobile app, visitors can download the app before they arrive and then access all the data they need on the city whilst wandering around the sites. It is a great idea for a city app to include the culture and heritage of the city for visitors to read through on their visit.

Have you used or created a mobile app for a city recently? What advice would you have? Tell us more below.

Written by
Alexander Rauser
Alexander Rauser


Alexander Rauser is the author of Boardroom Guide to Digital Accountability and Digital Strategy: A Guide to Digital Business Transformation, and creator of the DSX Program, a digital strategy and transformation program for Enterprises.

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