What if you could get answers to every question you had about city happenings from the palm of your hand?
According to the City of Pittsburgh, the new My Pittsburgh App fits the bill and can connect residents with info about city projects, summer programming and resources that could benefit them.
The app was developed by Poly Platform, a local civic tech firm that participated in the most recent cohort of the PGH Labs accelerator hosted by the city. My Pittsburgh App launched on Wednesday ahead of this cohort’s closing showcase.
We're proud to launch the My Pittsburgh App, a new concept from PGHLAB. The app is designed to connect residents with valuable information about city projects, summer programming, and city resources.— City of Pittsburgh (@Pittsburgh) July 12, 2023
Download the app, test it, and tell us what you think! https://t.co/izCvMZzKdo pic.twitter.com/0OL99D5VqT
Here at Technical.ly, we like to see for ourselves if apps are worth the download. So, this reporter tried out the new My Pittsburgh App. The gist so far: The app is reasonably straightforward and easy to navigate, which is welcome in a world where similar websites and applications can be overly complicated.
For starters, it’s free to download, so the only consideration you’d have to make is if there’s room for it on your phone.
When you first open the app, you see a list of event categories. The app helpfully gives the option of saving your favorite events. If a farmers market or “stop the violence” gathering is something you’d like to have easily accessible, the app will allow you to favorite it so that the event and its detailed description are at your fingertips.
Because no two Pittsburgh neighborhoods are the same, it’s useful that the app has tabs devoted to each one. When you presses a neighborhood name, you’ll see all the upcoming events happening there. For example, if you tapped the Brighton Heights tab, you’d see that every Friday, there’s a community-led initiative called Caring Connections seeking to divert young people from the juvenile justice and or child welfare system.
The app also allows users to set notifications that remind them of recurring events.
Besides events, My Pittsburgh App includes tabs on public meetings, citywide resources and relevant holidays.
However, where the app’s strengths lie in its simplicity, its main weakness is that it’s not entirely finished.
More than once while I tested this app, I’d click on an unfinished tab such as Safety or Cinema in the Park, and instead of providing me with info or events, the app would take me to an unrelated event page, such as for a farmers market. This might be confusing for some users. Plus, some categories including Water and Infrastructure feel incomplete. One might argue: Filling those tabs with information could’ve taken precedence over recreational events.
All in all, the app seems like it is off to a good start, but as some of it is clearly still under construction, this reporter would advise you to keep the city website handy while seeking info.
Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.
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