Thursday, February 23, 2017

Fort Thomas City Council OK's Money For Creation Of App

Chuck Keller addresses council at the Feb. 21 meeting. FTM file. 
By Robin Gee

Fort Thomas residents and visitors will have a new way to take in the city just in time for the 150-year celebration this July. City Council members voted at the February council meeting to move ahead with development of a Tour Buddy mobile app by voting to allow the expenditure for up to $5,000 this year.

The Tour Buddy app provides walking tours, maps, events and historical information on cell phones, tablets and other mobile devices. The app is used across the country for cities, museums, universities and even cemetery tours.

Chuck Keller, a member of the Fort Thomas Sesquicentennial Committee, shared features and advantages of the app at the meeting. He has been working with the app, adding festival events and three sample tours for different parts of the city. Council and city officials have been able to explore the app for about a month.

“It becomes a very interesting e-card for the city, a way to introduce ourselves to new businesses and new residents,” said Keller.

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In addition to providing information on Sesquicentennial events, Keller sees the app as having great future potential for more festivals, new business information, a Sears home tour, garden and historical tours, as well as public safety and community information.

Keller addressed two key concerns — cost and content creation.

The tours, events and city information are included in the base level cost of the app. For an additional fee, push notifications for businesses, such as sales or other marketing messages, could be included.

Basic level set up is $2,500 with an annual fee of $1,000 on a year-to-year contract. Additional push notifications would be available for $500 to set up plus an additional $1,000 a year.

Initial content is being created by Keller and others on the Sesquicentennial committee, as well as a high school journalism class, but the city will need to take over administration of updates. Local schools, area historians and other interested citizens could be tapped to help, said Keller.

Council passed a resolution to provide up to the $5,000 for the project with a plan to roll out the basic tour app for the July Sesquicentennial festivities. Input from members, city officials and residents, along with use data provided by the Tour Buddy company, will be collected through the end the year to inform a decision on future use.

The app will be available by July through the Apple App Store and Google Play. To see samples of tours from other cities, see the Tour Buddy website.

 Sample cell phone screens for different features included in the Tour Buddy app for Savannah, Georgia.

2 comments:

  1. Great news Chuck! Looking forward to seeing it and using it.

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  2. Does the city need to spend up to $5,000 to "develop" an app? An app that will only provide information on the Sesquicentennial festival and maybe have a map of a few dozen Sear's homes. I feel that all of this information could be relayed more easily to the public through social media (Twitter, Facebook) and a website. There are far better uses for the $5,000. It could be used for the preservation of our historical buildings such as the Armory and Mess Hall or the continual improvement of our parks.

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