How can mobile apps provide new revenue sources to a City?

Posted by Brian Hurley on July 31, 2014 in Blog

There are a wide variety of public-facing mobile apps that can be deployed by a City focusing on specific domains or areas. Some examples include:

  • Emergency preparedness and communications
  • 511/road conditions
  • City news
  • Parking
  • Elections citizen engagement
  • Elected officials constituent communications & engagement
  • Parks and recreation
  • Bikeways and pathways
  • Recycling, waste management & garbage collection
  • Festivals and events
  • Public consultation
  • Pet adoption
  • Bylaw services
  • 311/report a problem
  • Public transit
  • Airport information, arrivals/departures
  • City walking tours
  • Tourism
  • Economic development
  • Museums
  • Print replacement
  • Healthcare
  • Interactive kiosks

In addition to capabilities specific to the application, all mobile apps can include the following (items that represent monetization opportunities are identified with a “$”):

  • Advertising and sponsorships ($), e.g. slide-down banner ads, splash screens, featured business entries in information directories
  • Local offers and deals ($), e.g. local businesses can subscribe to add offers to the app (using a mobile-enabled portal), the offers are presented to users based on location (e.g. geo-based) or user may interactively search / browse
  • Proximity-based consumer engagement ($), e.g. information or engagement based on the user’s location in relation to “beacons” for products, services, special offers
  • Live messaging (aka push notifications) ($), e.g. City administrators can send out messages to app users to announce events, accidents, construction, detours, or emergency updates; messages can be scheduled or on-demand and sent to one or all deployed mobile apps.
  • Location-aware information directories ($), e.g. multiple directories may be configured, directories may be viewed based on user geo-location (ordering nearest first), date sorted, filtered by category, and free-text search; content can be displayed in a map or list view; content can be automatically imported from 3rd party and open data sources
  • Geo-based maps, e.g. overlay points of interest on a map based on entries in a location-aware information directory relative to the user location
  • Stylized maps, e.g. display a stylized map with overlays of points of interest based on location-aware information directories – this is of particular use for special events and indoor venues
  • Business Intelligence ($), e.g. demographics, usage of features (what, when), downloads (number and from what country), location and proximity-based analytics
  • “Scavenger” hunt ($), e.g. a live discovery tool to allow the user to find points of interest or locations which are marked using “beacons”; can be configured to suit any need – tourism, visitor engagement, special event, consumer engagement
  • Streaming web-cams ($), e.g. can use web-cams connected via WiFi to stream views of popular tourism destinations or venues such as parking or public events
  • Traffic web-cams, e.g. display traffic web-cam views
  • Web-views for legacy integration, e.g. allows websites from other organizations to be easily integrated
  • Audio and Video tours ($), e.g. provide a location-aware, self-guided audio tour of locations around the City, venue or special event
  • Interactive discovery ($), e.g. dynamically highlights attractions or points of interest that are close to the user based on their proximity to “beacons”
  • Geo-location and schedule-based messages ($), e.g. based on user location and time automatically display special notifications related to events or near-by attractions
  • Local weather, e.g. Environment Canada weather for the City
  • News feeds, e.g. RSS feeds may be added from City or partner sources and made available in an easy to use manner
  • Social sharing, e.g. allows users to share content in the application using eMail, Twitter, Facebook
  • Social media feeds, e.g. allows integration of City and partner organization social media feeds, including Twitter, Facebook, Pintrest, Google+, etc.
  • Customization, e.g. allows user to customize button ordering in the app to their individual preference of use
  • Viral sharing, e.g. automatic prompt asking the user to share the app with their friends to help drive awareness and usage
  • Rate the app, e.g. automatic prompt asking the user to rate the app to help drive awareness and usage
  • Opt-in/out, e.g. allows the user to opt-in/out of notifications
  • Support request, e.g. form to allow user to report an issue with the app
  • EULA and Terms of Use, e.g. require the user to accept specified terms of use prior to being allowed to use the app
  • Multi-language
  • Favourites / Itinerary, e.g. users can create a favourites or itinerary based on entries in any location-aware information directory to support planning and streamlining of the user experience
  • Over the air content updates, e.g. updates to the mobile app made on the Mobile Apps as a Service platform are automatically pushed out to the users

Applications may be created as single applications focused on a particular domain, or can be a single application covering multiple domains.

The City of Mississauga Road Conditions App, which focuses on road-related information – such as city vehicle location, street-level snow removal status, construction, traffic cameras, alerts – is an example of a single domain-specific application.

City of Regina CityApp is an example of a single app focused on integrating functionality and organizations into a comprehensive multi-domain, multi-organization application. In the case of the City of Regina CityApp, multiple organizations participate in providing content and functionality including, Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region, Transit, Regina Airport Authority, Regina Regional Opportunities Commission, City of Regina, Leader-Post (local newspaper), Tourism Regina.