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City joins technical revolution

Published 11:00 am Thursday, June 12, 2014

Vicksburg officials are taking the city’s technical revolution a step further with plans to have a smartphone app and texting for residents.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday approved contracts totaling $3,100 a month with Ridgeland-based bfac.com LLC to develop the app and texting capabilities for residents to get in closer contact with city government.

“This is another move to make city government more efficient, and get people more involved,” said South Ward Alderman Willis Thompson. “The technology is here and having an app for the city will put us on the cutting edge. This is going to make a lot of tasks easier.”

Information Technology director Billy Gordon said bfac.com will charge the city $1,200 per month to handle the texting and $1,900 a month for the app. He said texting capabilities should be ready in about two weeks, while the app will take about 21/2 months to develop. He said residents will be able to access both through the city’s website.

Gordon said residents whose cell phones have texting capabilities might have to pay a fee for the texts, depending on their service plan. There will be no charge to download the app on a smartphone.

He said the smartphone app would allow residents who see problems like potholes or an illegal dump to photograph it and send it to the city with a note giving a location. The app, he said, will be compatible with iPhones, Android phones and Windows OS.

“The texting and the app will give us another way to reach citizens,” he said. “We will be able to send texts for emergency warnings, tell people about events in the city. If we have to issue a boil water notice, we will be able to isolate the notice to the affected area. People will eventually be able to text the city.”

The board’s announcement about the text and app functions came about two weeks after it announced it was going paperless for meetings, putting meeting agendas and supporting documents online where they can be accessed by city officials and residents.

The board held its first official paperless meeting Tuesday, with Mayor George Flaggs Jr., North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield, Thompson, City Attorney Nancy Thomas and City Clerk Walter Osborne using iPads to review items on the agenda instead of going to ring binders.