Henderson mayor uses annual speech to unveil smart phone app


Tired of driving around that pothole or looking at that splash of graffiti near the broken streetlight?

If you live in Henderson, there's an app for that.

Nevada's second-largest city is now offering a free application to Apple iPhone users who want to report problems or request information.

The program enables users to send a note or snap a picture of a problem with their cell phones and upload it directly to the city with GPS coordinates attached.

The app is part of Contact Henderson, a program the city launched more than two years ago to let residents submit code complaints and other concerns over the Internet and track their issues through to completion.

Mayor Andy Hafen unveiled Contact Henderson's new smart phone tool during his annual State of the City address Thursday .

On Wednesday, Hafen became the first Henderson resident to submit a tip using the app.

"He drove around, found some graffiti and snapped a picture," city spokesman Bud Cranor said.

As it turned out, the graffiti was on private property, so it will be up to the owner to clean it up. Hafen's tip was forwarded to the city's code enforcement department, which will notify the property owner, city spokeswoman Kathleen Richards said.

The app was one of several initiatives Hafen touched on Thursday in an upbeat speech that focused on Henderson's quality of life now and in the future.

"The state of our city is still strong, and I see examples every day of the good that exists here," the mayor said during the 30-minute address at the M Resort. "I have opportunities all the time that inspire me and make me believe that our best days are yet to come."

Hafen stressed the importance of planning ahead as the city continues to navigate its way through the worst economic climate in its 58-year history.

Key to that will be the city's strategic plan, which Hafen said "provides a way for us to measure our progress and evaluate our performance."

"It pushes us to be more accountable; it pushes us to be more sustainable," he said.

Hafen pointed to a citywide energy retrofit project that has earned Henderson more than $900,000 in energy rebates through the use of solar panels and upgraded lighting and mechanical systems at more than 45 buildings.

Henderson recently completed the installation of 28,000 new high-efficiency streetlights.

"That may not sound like a big deal, but this simple move alone is saving the city an additional million dollars a year in energy costs," Hafen said.

The iPhone app is expected to boost traffic to Contact Henderson, which has received roughly 52,000 separate tips and questions since June 2008.

On average, it takes the city no more than a day and half to resolve problems reported under the program, Cranor said.

Similar apps are now in the works for Android and Blackberry mobile devices.

Las Vegas and North Las Vegas accept questions and complaints over the Internet, but Henderson is the first local city with its own smart phone app.

Last year, Clark County launched its own app for combating graffiti, illegal dumping and other code violations in the valley's urban core.

The myDistrictD application sends tips and complaints directly to Clark County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly's office for distribution to the appropriate county department.

Other U.S. cities from Boston to Portland, Ore., have developed smart phone interfaces to help residents easily report problems.

"The great thing about this is it goes straight to the city, and you can track it so you can see what happens and when it happens," Cranor said. "I don't know how you can get any more transparent than that."

Contact reporter Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350.

 

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