Penn Hills residents are able to get announcements about everything from road closures to events in the parks on their smartphones.
Penn Hills administration has inked a deal with Savvy Citizen, a mobile app designed to allow governments to communicate with residents.
The free app is available for download on Apple and Android devices. It allows users the option to receive updates by email, text or push notifications. It includes a calendar of events and can be used to send notifications about emergencies.
The app was developed by Pittsburgh-based Management Science Associates in 2017, when it partnered with Pine, Richland and Marshall townships to test the technology with suburban communities.
Since then, 25 communities in Allegheny County have purchased the service and about 225,000 citizens are using the program through either the mobile app or the website, said Jeralyn Brown, a senior account manager for Savvy Citizen.
Penn Hills will pay about $5,100 yearly to use the platform. Jesse Toth, the municipality’s IT administrator, said about 170 Penn Hills residents have signed up since the service’s launch in August.
Penn Hills already uses its website and social media platforms to post announcements.
Recently, the municipality began video recording council meetings and other events. The videos are published on the Penn Hills YouTube channel. Council meetings are also live-streamed on YouTube.
Savvy Citizen and the municipality’s revamped YouTube channel are the municipality’s latest efforts to engage its some 40,000 residents.
Manager Scott Andrejchak said the municipality lacked the ability to send text messages out to residents relating to road closures and emergencies.
“It is also related to a desire to bring more residents into the democratic process — by broadcasting the council meetings, being more accessible and having this app, Penn Hills residents now have more ways of being informed than ever before,” Andrejchak said in an email.