A new app has been developed which enables councils to send neighbourhood alerts on a whole range of service information. And, importantly, with very precise targeting abilities.
By Simon Jones
Imagine if there was a form of Twitter where at a touch of a button you could decide if the message went to a single house, street, neighbourhood – or even an entire town, city or county depending on the need.
It would revolutionise comms around things like bin collection changes, road closures, school closures and planning apps – right?
Think about the savings of never having to produce a direct mail again – let alone the reputational value of keeping residents informed.
Haringey Council, together with newspaper publisher Trinity Mirror, have built a mobile phone app which enables us to send highly targeted information using GPS co-ordinates.
Through your desktop and a map you decide exactly where the message (around 140 characters) goes – and it can plug into your highways and planning systems to automate the feed according to postcode.
We have settings which mean that every minor planning app goes to someone within 50 metres of where the application is lodged. Road closures are set at a 1,500 radius – but you can decide.
The beauty of the system is that you quickly send out messages any time you want to any area you want – fantastic in emergencies.
All you need, of course, is for the person to have downloaded the ‘neighbourhood alerts’ app – but that is why we are pushing it so hard because we really think it is a service that our residents would value.
We built as part of a DCLG pilot to look at new ways of communicating public notices, although its use extends well beyond public notices.
Our evaluation – surprise, surprise, found that only 4% of the population see public notices in newspapers which means that pretty much half the population only find out about planning apps or roadworks when it is too late (often when they are stuck in the roadworks or building work starts). That is something this technology solves.
We’ve had a fantastic response from our residents in the short space of time since it launched with 7 out of 10 saying it is their primary information source.
If you would like to see it in action download ‘Haringey Notiz’ in your app store.
We’re looking for interest from councils that want to be part of a possible second pilot where its use is expanded (at very little cost)
If you are interested email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Simon Jones is Assistant Director, Communications for Haringey Council