City of Southside utilizing phone app for important information

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By Kaitlin Hoskins, News Editor

The application itself may not be new, but City of Southside Mayor Dana Snyder is taking a new approach to informing the city’s citizens and tourists by using it.

“So, originally, it was ‘hey, we have this CARES Act money that the state did during COVID-19, so how do we use it?’,” Snyder said. “We wanted to be able to get important information to people who may not have home internet or email. But these days, everybody has a phone, right? So, we wanted to reach people who were staying at home.”

Now, with COVID-19 no longer a major concern for most people, Snyder wanted to find a way to better utilize the application the city just renewed a contract for.

“I started thinking back in December that we might need to kind of revamp the app a little bit,” Snyder said.

“At first it was just weather, weather, weather,” Snyder said. “Weather gets put out there so much through the EMA, weather apps, the Sheriff’s Department, Nixel, you name it. It’s out there so much for the minor thunderstorms and people got tired of getting all of these notifications. I can see how people can get tired of it.”

So, Snyder had the application developers, OCV Apps, scale down the weather notifications and then the application was placed on a back burner while Snyder and the city focused on larger projects, like the new fire station construction and bridge replacement discussions.

But when the contract for the application came up for renewal, Snyder wanted to put the money the city spent to good use.

“In 2020 we spent the money and signed a three-year contract with the developer,” Snyder said. “Well, it was three years later, and the contract was up, and I always wanted this app to be more. I wanted it to be used. We just got so busy with everything else.”

The city originally spent $22,530 in 2020 for the three-year contract and the development of the application. The contract included unlimited changes to the application and maintenance. Then in December of 2023, the city signed a one-year contract for annual maintenance and changes for $4,995.

“We’re going to see how this year goes with the changes and using it more,” Snyder said. “And we’ll see how it goes after that. I hate to waste money. I don’t want to waste money on something that will not benefit the majority of the people in the city.”

The application currently includes easy to use features like links to the city’s official social media pages, complaint forms that are sent directly to the Mayor’s Office, a page for community resources and a link to easily navigate city ordinances. It also has a weather tab, news tab and a “Mayor’s Welcome” tab that includes a greeting and an update on things happening around Southside.

According to Snyder, the application still sends push notifications — if the app user has that setting turned on — for important information like road closures, major accidents and dangerous storms.

“It has to be a pretty major storm or a bad freeze for the app to send out a notification,” she said.

Another feature of the application is a community events calendar.

For those who may be concerned about their device’s security or those wary of clicking links, Snyder said that the majority of the application’s links go straight to the City of Southside website.

The Southside AL application for cellphones can be downloaded through the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store for free. The QR code here can also be scanned and it will direct you to the proper store to purchase the application. 

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