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YouTown — Gov2.0 app for publishing civic data — is live!

It’s been nearly a year since we introduced the concept of YouTown — a mobile platform for connecting citizens and their communities — to the Gov2.0 space. At the heart of development were two questions: How would local governments benefit from the ability to publish all types of information from various agencies (from Public Works to City Hall to the Chamber of Commerce and beyond) using one simple interface?
And how would citizens benefit from the ability to receive all that data (news, maps, events, services) right to their mobile devices?
Those questions were the driving force behind several months of Beta testing by numerous cities, counties, and agencies across the US and Canada. Now we can find out just how far the benefits of mobile open data will reach . . . because YouTown is live and available for citizen download!
There is currently no platform comparable to YouTown available in the mobile government market, and the responses from our partner cities have been enthusiastic.

Chris Matthews, eGovernment Information Officer for Washoe County, Nevada, called YouTown a “very well-designed product” and commented, “I did all my testing on an iPod Touch, so I know it works brilliantly with that as well.”

When can I get my city on YouTown?
If your agency is located in the US or Canada, you can sign-up now! Later this summer, the plan is to extend support for YouTown to agencies in Europe and Australia!

What makes YouTown different?
Many agencies do offer mobile versions of their websites, but YouTown has several unique advantages in that the platform:

  • Is location-based; users can choose a city or get real-time directions on maps within the app.
  • Combines information from multiple agencies (i.e. Public Works, Chamber of Commerce, etc.) so residents can enjoy a one-stop shop for complete community information.
  • Allows even agencies without websites to inform and interact with citizens.
  • Supports open-data tools (i.e. RSS, iCalendar, KML) that governments are already using for publishing local information.
  • Is available in a free version that agencies can sign up for and begin using in just minutes.
This is a big step toward seamless, one-stop communication between citizens and their communities — and we believe YouTown will be a huge win for open data and mobile government.

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Profile Photo Michael Riedyk

Sam,

Govt agencies can sign-up on YouTown.com to get access to the YouTown Admin interface to publish their news, events, services and maps. The YouTown Admin account is free for local govt agencies.

Thanks,

Michael

Profile Photo Sam Allgood

That still doesn’t answer what’s the process … is data entered through the web at your site, through a desktop app, submitted by email, or scraped from the city’s site? Agencies would want to know how we are providing data before signing up for an account. We are very much interested in knowing how much additional work is going to be required to publish content and what type of person is going to be able to do it. I would think a demo on the site would be a real plus in getting buy-in.

Profile Photo Michael Riedyk

Ah, clear:

YouTown provides a webbased Admin interface. In the admin interface agencies add links to their RSS, iCalendar, KML.KMZ files (which they host on their own servers). YouTown checks these files for changes every few minutes, aggregates all the data and publishes it realt-time to the YouTown app.

If you don’t have RSS or iCalendar feeds, we also provide the option to add events and news articles manually in YouTown Admin. YouTown also supports maps that are created using the My Maps feature on Google Maps.

The initial set-up takes 30 minutes to a few hours (depending if you have all feeds available) and after that it works automagically.

To get a good idea, you should download the YouTown app from the App Store and take a look at the City of Enid or the City of Prattville. These cities now have a better mobile presence than most top 20 cities (and for Free).

We’re planning a series of webinars in the upcoming weeks.

Profile Photo Sam Allgood

Signed up for our city (Newport News, VA) this week and got most if not all of our data linked up. A fairly easy and quick process. Some things were not quite intuitive, but was eventually able to get it figured out.

Showed it to our IT director today. He was interested in possibly a coordinated regional roll-out with other Hampton Roads cities and had me request quote info.