Canadian city using ‘game changer’ progressive web app
Aug. 22, 2016
by Mark Ollig

An improved method for citizens to engage with all segments of their local community is why this Canadian town created its own unique software web application, or app.

“Tecumseh launches new progressive web app, the first municipality in North America to do so. The app was created with InspireHUB Technologies to boost public engagement and allow residents and visitors a unique way to communicate with the Town.” This message was on the website of the Town of Tecumseh, in Ontario, Canada.

This new, specially coded app is compatible with any web browser used on smartphones and other smart computing devices.

Karolyn Hart, chief operating officer of InspireHUB Technologies, described what a progressive web app is, and why this technology is so exciting.

A progressive web app is not like the typical app you download from an online app store.

The real difference between a Progressive Web App and other technology is its piece of technology called the Service Worker.

The Service Worker runs behind the scenes of a progressive web app.

It collects information, and allows a user to access and use features of the app, even when offline.

This ability to collect information offline is the key differentiator between progressive web apps and all the other technologies currently on the market.

Progressive web apps are very new, and they are attracting much attention.

The first progressive web app summit took place at the end of June, and participants included: Google and Microsoft, and web browser companies Mozilla and Opera.

“There are a lot of great and exciting things going on with this brand new technology,” Hart revealed.

Complementing their existing website, the Town of Tecumseh’s progressive web app; IHUBapp, allows a citizen to quickly access and give input to items of interest within their local community.

One logs into the IHUBapp program using a name (pre-registered email address) and a password.

This humble columnist registered, was verified, and granted approval to use the Town of Tecumseh’s new web app.

Participating in city surveys, real-time polls, volunteering and fundraising management tools, registering for community events, along with citizens uploading content to share, are just some of the features being used in the city’s new web app.

The app’s icon can be easily added to the home screen of an Android or Apple mobile user’s phone for quick access.

“Web push notifications” or alerts for city channels, events, or other town news and information a citizen wants timely information on, is easily set up, and will activate even if the user devices’ web browser is closed.

“The Town of Tecumseh is always looking at new ways to reach residents and continue to communicate the work we do for them. We have three main priorities to engage our residents: communication, compliance, and reach,” said Mayor Gary McNamara of Tecumseh.

As a former duly-elected city councilmember, I reached out to the Tecumseh’s City Council channel.

The city council channels available included: The Town Mayer, Town Deputy Mayor, and the Ward 1, 3, and 4 Councilor channels.

The channel for The Town Mayer took me to a dedicated channel showing a photo of Mayor Gary McNamara, and a link to his video greeting.

“Hi, I’m Gary McNamara, Mayor of the Town of Tecumseh. I’m very excited to welcome you to my IHUBApp channel, where you can learn and receive updates about the Town of Tecumseh - a town that takes pride in offering access to big-city amenities along with the convenience and friendliness of a small waterfront community. Tecumseh features lovely neighborhoods, a healthy agricultural community with wonderful schools, strong business sector, and numerous recreational alternatives. Thank you for visiting my channel!” cheerfully said the mayor on his video.

Below the mayor’s greeting is a comment section, where folks can leave their thoughts and opinions.

“Great to see our town using technology to communicate with residents. Thank you Town of Tecumseh,” commented resident Mark Halbish.

Comments did not show up online immediately, as a “pending approval” message appears.

I did type a very nice message to the mayor – which was “approved for posting” via an email I later received from the “Town of Tecumseh.”

“When we learned about the IHUBApp and saw that residents controlled their app experience by joining the channels they are interested in, we felt that was a game changer,” Mayor McNamara said in a news release.

The population of the town of Tecumseh is 23,610 according to the latest Canadian census.

The town of Tecumseh’s website is: www.tecumseh.ca.

Their IHUBApp is: www.tecumsehapp.ca.

To learn how to code your own Progressive Web App, go to Google’s Codelabs Developer’s webpage: http://tinyurl.com/bitsPWA.

Google’s free “Your First Progressive Web App” course was updated Aug. 13, and will guide you on building a “weather web app” using progressive web app techniques.

Inspire HUB Technologies can be reached at: www.inspirehub.com, and followed on Twitter using @Inspire_HUB.

I don’t have my progressive web app built yet; however, you can still follow me via @bitscolumn on Twitter.

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