For $6,000 the city made itself a little more user friendly and helped out a local startup company.

Monday, the city officially launched a new smartphone app, Williamsburg Wayfinder, that changes the way residents, businesses and visitors interact with government, attractions and businesses.

The app updates the CITY 411 app introduced in 2011. Residents can still submit and track non-emergency requests, photos and text messages, but the new app adds new features, allowing access of the city’s Property Information Service and will also inform users of restaurants and shops closest to them. It was created by iTourMobile, a client in the Historical Triangle Business Incubator,

“With this new app, we’re providing a single pane of glass into the city,” said Information Technology Director Mark Barham. “The Williamsburg Wayfinder enables users to reach across all departments — from planning and permitting to taxes and facility rental. By capturing, routing and managing service requests, the system will create a convenient form of communication among departments, resulting in faster response times.”

Williamsburg Wayfinder provides links to the city’s online Shop & Dine map, the Williamsburg Regional Library, Williamsburg Farmers Market, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and the Williamsburg Area Destination Marketing Committee’s VisitWilliamsburg website

“Information technology helps the city connect with citizens to improve service delivery and operational performance, and we’re always seeking methods to engage our residents that are efficient, convenient and easy to use,” said City Manager Jack Tuttle. “More and more residents are using smartphone apps for everything from travel and education to banking and shopping. Williamsburg Wayfinder allows citizens to communicate with the city the same way they’re communicating and interacting in all areas of their lives.”

As an example, the city posited a visitor who wants to take a morning run. The app could be used to access a map and description of the William & Mary Loop, a 2.1-mile route through the campus, which is one of the Great City Walks

Later, the visitors could use the app to find the closest restaurant, finding out where it is, how to get their and what’s on the menu, as well as placing a call for reservations if necessary

A person interested in moving his or her business here could use the app to get a list of available properties, with descriptions, photos and links to the real estate broker. The Great City Walks component of the app is a smartphone version of the printed walking tours produced in 2006 in cooperation with the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance. William & Mary alumnus and Triangle Business & Innovation Center client Lance Zaal, provided his technology for the Great City Walks, enable geo-location, photos, audio and text descriptions of the area.

The app can be downloaded for free from both the Apple App Store and the Android Market.

The cost to the City for the app was $6,000. Because the technology is a content management system, it can be continually updated and adapted to respond to changing needs and user feedback.

(c)2014 The Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg, Va.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

Photo Credit: A tourist dresses up in Colonial Williamsburg. pak152 / Flickr