Access Bennett is a mobile app for the town of Bennett, created to help citizens and employees alike. Built using the PublicStuff platform by Accela, Access Bennett provides many new features for users including: general news and information about Bennett and town events, online service request submissions, access to new communication channels, and the ability to send out instant push notifications to users in the event of an emergency.
I began working on a mobile application in April 2015, after the Town Administrator and Board of Trustees decided that an app would be a valuable marketing tool for Bennett. With the assistance of another team member, I began evaluating possible mobile developers over a period of several weeks. A number of possible candidates emerged, but most were more familiar with creating apps focused on tourism and did not offer the robust functionality we were looking for.
The decision was eventually made to use the PublicStuff platform due to their expertise in developing products for government applications. With a developer onboard my duties evolved to designing the visual aspects of the app, such as choosing imagery, defining color palettes and designing an emblematic icon for the app.
Once the visuals were decided I began work on building out the content database of the app, which included:
- ● Defining content sections
- ● Importing employee bios and contact info
- ● Creating service maps and directories
- ● Determining service request topics
- ● Designing workflows for each service request
Eventhough Access Bennett was a relatively simple app, other projects routinely took priority over it. Development was slow over the next few months and eventually stalled until summer of 2016. At this point, it was decided that the launch of the app should co-incide with Bennett Days, an annual community harvest festival. With only two months until Bennett Days, work shifted to completing the online request functionality of the app. For every request type created a workflow had to be designed which determined what department and which staff member the request would be assigned to. This was a slow and tedious process, but was a key requirement in launching a useful app.