Users first: revolutionising a mobile app for the city

Jose Alberto Gomez

19 Mar 2019, 11:45 a.m.
Room D (Chateau)

According to the United Nations, 50 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas; and that figure will grow to 70 percent by 2050.

The US city of San Antonio in Texas surpasses any other major metropolitan area in the state for total population growth, a situation which brings its own urban management challenges. The city’s municipal non-emergency service (311) receives an average of 2,000 calls daily from local residents reporting a variety of non-emergency issues including potholes, stray animals and graffiti.

This paper describes the process used by the City’s Innovation Office and the Department of 311 services to replace a mobile app that offered a one way communication channel, had low user engagement, and lacked interactive features. In partnership with local Civic Technology startup Cityflag, a new mobile app, 311SA, was designed.

Jose explores whether mobile user-centric UX/UI design and gamification dynamics can increase civic engagement.