The town of Matthews has released a mobile application allowing citizens to report local issues and have instant access to the town's website.
The MyMatthews mobile app is free and available for iPhones and Androids. A version for BlackBerrys and independent devices is coming soon, said Matthews Communications Director Annette Privette Keller, who developed the application.
The mobile app has a real-time communications interface, which allows users to exchange information instantly.
Citizens who want to report a pothole, traffic accident or malfunctioning stoplight no longer have to make a phone call or boot up their laptop to email a report. They can just go straight to the mobile app, and the town will receive the information instantly.
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Users can send anonymous or signed reports.
The easy communication goes both ways. The mobile app system has a "customer resource management" feature that will allow the town to update citizens on the status of their reported concerns.
The town had been looking at various tracking systems to monitor all the requests, complaints and tips from citizens. Some companies wanted more than half-a-million dollars for just an instant-feedback recording system alone, Keller said.
"They were so costly, with this economy we couldn't afford to implement it," said Keller.
It cost the town only about $10,000 to develop a mobile app with that capability.
Keller said the town board and Mayor Jim Taylor, whom Keller called a "technology junkie," have been excited about the town's new 21st-century communication capabilities.
Taylor "realized right away how important it is for us to be on the cutting edge with this," said Keller.
The town worked closely with the staff of phone-call-tracking company GetAbby Inc. and the city of Charlotte, which launched the My Charlotte mobile app last year.
Keller said that as far as she knows, Matthews and Charlotte are the only two cities or towns with their own mobile application.
"It's a really good way for us to spend our money," said Keller. "We've got to look at communications differently and in a new way."