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Waste Watch: Austin Delays Decision On $800,000 311 App

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 09:47 PM CDT

Update: Jan. 17, 11 a.m.

The City Council tabled the proposal Thursday. Austin City Council Member Laura Morrison says she is concerned about the high price and that no other bids were sought out.

The Austin City Council will consider approving a contract Thursday for $854,191 to develop a mobile app for 311.

Officials say 100 percent of the cost would come from revenue Austin Energy receives from paying customers.

If passed, the app would give citizens the ability to make service requests such as graffiti removal or potholes on their iPhone or Android.

I think there is a general interest in the community that well if I could do it on my smartphone, I could avoid having to call you, said 311 manager Joe Calabrese.

Calabrese says the call center receives 200,000 service requests via the phone and email annually. Currently there are 80 employees.

After looking at different proposals, the most cost effective application was an almost million dollar addition to an existing Motorola contract.

City officials defend the high cost saying it is not just to develop the app. It would also channel 16 different departments to receive the mobile requests, as well as contain licensing, security and maintenance fees. Attached would be a $25,000 yearly expense. We tried to get a hold of the contract to break down the pricing, but the city was unable to provide it.

KEYE TV did some checking and found out Cedar Park developed an app for a minimum cost of $2,000, with a $6,000 yearly fee.

App developer and expert Q Manning, the CEO of Rocksauce Studios, tells us the cost depends on if the app is a template or created from scratch.

Generally apps cost on the low end $25,000 and if you are lucky you can get it for cheaper than that. Or it can go to $150,000 and millions of dollars, Manning said.

The city justifies spending taxpayer dollars saying it would create more efficiency, and eventually would reduce the number of employees at 311.

If the council approves the proposal, the application would be available as soon as June.

By Christie Post

Waste Watch: Austin Delays Decision On $800,000 311 App



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