May 10, 2016
MEMO TO: Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners
FROM: Frank A. Rush, Jr., Town Manager
SUBJECT: Presentation – The Emerald Isle App
The Board of Commissioners and the public will receive a presentation / demonstration of the new “Emerald Isle App” at the May 10 regular meeting. The new app is available now for Android devices at Google Play, and should be available for Apple devices at The App Store any day now, and not later than May 16. Individuals interested in downloading the new app should simply search for “Emerald Isle NC” at Google Play or The App Store.
The new app is intended to reach two main audiences in one app: 1) the thousands of visitors and potential visitors to Emerald Isle, by providing helpful information about our area businesses and attractions, and 2) our residents and property owners (and visitors if they are interested), by providing helpful information about the Town of Emerald Isle government and also offering a new way to report concerns to Town officials. As you will see, there are the following information choices on the main menu:
- Eat & Drink - leads to a list of all restaurants in EI, with detailed information about each, including directions from where the user is currently located
- Shop - leads to a list of all shopping establishments in EI, with detailed information about each
- Stay - leads to a list of all accommodations in EI; hotels, motels, campgrounds / RV parks, vacation rentals, etc.
- Things to Do - leads to a list of different fun activities, including Bogue Inlet Pier, kitesurfing, the movies, charter fishing, etc.
- Events - leads to a list of upcoming special events in the next month; for example, May includes Bike the Banks, EMS Pancake Breakfast, etc.
- Near Me - pulls up the choices above based on proximity to the user
- Beach & Sound - leads to a lot of different information, including beach access locations, beach driving information, the public boat ramp, etc.
- Town Government - leads to a secondary menu with the following choices:
- News – includes the latest news from Town Government (much of the same information included under “Latest News” on the Town website)
- Meetings – lists all upcoming Board meetings, other important meetings, etc.
- Town Events – leads to a similar list of events as outlined above
- Contact Us – complete phone and email contact info for each Town department
- Visit Our Website – a direct, in-app link to www.emeraldisle-nc.org
- Let Us Know – a new tool that allows the user to select a category for their concern, and then automatically send a photo and note about the concern to the appropriate Town department head; the photo and accompanying map should let the Town department head know everything they need to know about the concern, and it should be very easy for the person to submit.
The app also includes the ability to create a customized digital postcard with features that identify the location as Emerald Isle. The digital postcard button is located at the bottom of the main menu screen, and allows the user to instantly take a photo or use a photo from their own photo library. There are then different postcard background options, an Emerald Isle “stamp”, and the ability to include a message. The digital postcard can then be sent to friends and family, and can also be automatically uploaded to Facebook, Twitter, etc. --- all with the new Emerald Isle logo prominently displayed. We are hopeful that this will be an additional digital marketing tool for Emerald Isle in the future.
The new app includes the prominent use of the new Emerald Isle logo all throughout, and includes numerous pretty pictures of the beach, sound, pier, etc. that will hopefully showcase all of the great things about Emerald Isle. There are several pretty pictures used as “launch screens” and “splash screens” that show up for a few seconds while other information is loading. The new app will also enable the Town to send out “push notifications” that will pop up on the user’s phone in the future, and we intend to use this feature to provide hurricane alerts to the public, and perhaps for other especially important announcements. I have attached numerous “screen shots” of some of the different screens included in the app, and I am very pleased with the aesthetic quality of the new app.
We have already begun publicizing the new app via the Town’s email newsletter, and will be sending out additional email blasts, posting on the Town website, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, etc. We will also be installing new signs in key locations that include a picture of the app icon, along with a note to “Download the Emerald Isle App at The App Store and Google Play”. I hope to have the new signs installed before Memorial Day, and we will locate at least one at each entrance into Emerald Isle, among other locations.
The Board should note that the app is intentionally limited to Emerald Isle businesses and attractions only. We specifically do not want to include information about businesses and attractions in other communities because our goal is to promote Emerald Isle businesses! It will also likely become an administrative challenge to begin adding businesses and attractions in other communities, and will be difficult to draw the line between communities, businesses, etc. In the future, I hope to create other “Emerald Isle-specific” marketing tools to better promote Emerald Isle businesses.
The new app was developed by Bar-Z, an Austin, TX development firm, and the specific function and content was developed by me and Rhonda Ferebee, Town Clerk (who also manages the Town’s website and other social media platforms). I greatly appreciate Rhonda’s excellent work on this project, and know that she will do an outstanding job managing the content in the future. We hope the new app will be a valuable tool for our businesses, visitors, residents, and the Town staff.
Rhonda Ferebee and I look forward to demonstrating the new app to the Board and the public at the May 10 meeting.