After months of development and adjustments, the new Ponoka County mobile app has finally been launched.
The app, which was made available for iPhone and Android devices about two weeks ago, allows people to apply for fire and road permits along with access to various customer services — such as agricultural services and public safety departments — in addition to receiving county and emergency alerts.
According to Debbi Raugust, executive secretary at Ponoka County, about 140 iPhone users have downloaded the app since it was launched. However, there were no figures available for how many android users have installed the app, but Raugust knows there are several that have.
“We have already gotten fire and road permit requests and we have been working to promote the app,” she stated.
“Before, we would get a call for a permit, and while the work we do hasn’t really changed, it’s different in that there is no paper it’s all electronic now”
One other huge difference is in the better after-hours coverage that Ponoka County can now provide.
“It used to be if a company found out at 7:30 a.m. they needed a permit to be at a site at 8 a.m., they would have to wait until I got to work at 8:30 a.m.,” Raugust said.
“Now, they can submit the request and it will come to my phone where I can accept or reject it and the work is done. However, that does mean someone is now on call 24 hours a day.”
But permits aren’t the only help the app provides, it can also push out notifications, such as a stolen vehicle reported stolen in the county on Monday. The app also includes a one-touch call feature that will enable users to reach the reception and be directed to the proper department.
People can also use the app to send a photo about concerns or issues regarding agricultural services or public safety along with signing up to receive notifications from Ponoka County — on anything from when council meets to road bans to alerts on road conditions and construction.
The app has been in the process of development since August when Lethbridge-based SMBapps was tapped to make it happen. County council approved the idea at a meeting Aug. 23. Development took so long due to the level of customization necessary to meet the needs of Ponoka County.
“The push notifications and alerts are a big key feature of the app,” said Jedmarc Evangelista, SMBapps CEO, during that meeting.
Also at that meeting, Reeve Paul McLaughlin didn’t expect everyone to jump on board, but loves the app’s potential.
“One key to this is it has serious potential, especially for rural crime watch and other items that tend to get buried on other social media,” he said.