In the hopes of engaging the community further in the operation of Edmonton’s municipal government, the city is launching a new approach to creating services for residents.

The city, along with Touch Metric, a local technology company, has developed an iPhone application targeted for release in late April. In the first release, the application will allow residents to report things like graffiti, fallen trees, and sidewalk damage to 311 without the need to phone 311 directly.

“Opening up access to residents using tools such as iPhones and the Internet is really about recognizing that Edmontonians are looking to engage and be involved with the city using many means of communication,” said Stephen Gordon, director IT strategy and innovation for the city.

“It isn’t always convenient to phone or walk into a city premise. This allows the city to improve service and be more accessible to its constituents.”

The City Watch iPhone application will be available as a free download from the Apple application store.

The city is also launching an Apps4Edmonton competition to encourage the community to create applications for Internet and mobile devices for Edmontonians.

“The details of the competition will be released late March,” Gordon said.

“But at this time we can say there are $50,000 in overall prizes and multiple categories in which people will be encouraged to enter.”

The city hosted an open city workshop last weekend. Everyone who attended was invited to help design the Apps4Edmonton competition.

“It really signals just how committed we are to encouraging a culture of community involvement and engagement,” Gordon said.

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