Mobile app would keep all things Cheverly at hand

March 18, 2013

Information about Cheverly soon could be at residents’ fingertips. Town officials are deciding this month whether to support an app created for the community.

My Cheverly, an app created by resident Joel Thomas, contains information on all things Cheverly, such as more than a dozen links to Web sites of town groups and reviews of restaurants in and near the town. It also shows Twitter feeds for Metro, Pepco and Prince George’s County Public Schools.

“I think that technology today provides unique opportunities for government-to-citizen engagement and to get a better handle on what is going on in the community,” Thomas said.

He said comprehensive information about Cheverly groups was not available in one place on the Web before he created the app — not even on the town’s Web site.

Thomas wants support from the town — $468 per year, or $39 per month — to make the app available for an unlimited amount of free downloads for anyone with a device that can support it, such as smartphones or tablets.

He said the app would take up to two weeks to reach the market if he gets the funding and would require no other resources from the town. He would maintain and update the app.

Mayor Michael Callahan said he supports the town paying for the app because it would help keep residents informed.

“This is what I love about Cheverly,” he said.

Callahan said the Town Council will vote on whether to approve funding for the app at its March 28 meeting.

“You always get residents that ask you, ‘What can you give me?’ The beauty of Cheverly is that someone does something and tailors it to Cheverly,” Callahan said.

One of the main interactive features of the app, Thomas said, is that it links to SeeClickFix, a program that lets residents send property maintenance requests to town officials.

Thomas said he is not looking to patent the app or make a profit from it.

He said that when he moved to Cheverly five years ago, he wanted a tool that would help him learn more about the area. He hopes people looking to visit or move to Cheverly will download the app to learn more about what the town has to offer.

He said he did not know of other municipalities with similar apps, but hopes more will create them.

“Apps are the way of the future for so many people who struggle to use all this information that is available to them,” Thomas said. “There are so many . . . outlets, and the idea is to aggregate them into one place that [people] can use.”

James P. Peck, director of research and information management for the Maryland Municipal League, said he was not aware of other municipalities that have created similar apps.

Councilman Roswell Eldridge (Ward 3) said he would support the app and especially liked the SeeClickFix feature.

“It is kind of a cutting-edge thing where we want on be on the leading edge and not trailing,” Eldridge said.

Resident Nick D’Angelo, 34, said he thought the app was a good tool that would help residents learn more about the town.

“It is pretty exciting,” D’Angelo said. “It is indicative of the enthusiasm some have shown to the community and to fostering better communication. The town should support it.”

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