Top Ten Essential Features to Include in a City App

Tech Obsessed

In today’s social media-obsessed world, everyone appears glued to their smartphones – seeking connection while simultaneously avoiding their immediate surroundings. Just take a ten-minute stroll around your city and you will notice people staring into the abyss of their phone screens while crossing the street, at the park with their kids, and even (we’ve all seen it) while driving! In moments where the “obvious” solution is to pay attention, there will always be people in your area interacting mostly with their screens, so why not create a software solution to invite them to become more engaged with their surroundings?

Working With Technology, Not Against It

A battle against smartphone absorption may appear daunting, so why not work with technology instead of against it? Although software has the ability to keep people out of touch with their surroundings, creating a city-focused app has the potential to keep residents active and engaged. Appealing to locals through their devices may, in fact, be one of the best ways to keep them up to date and involved with current events in your region.

An Engaging Software Solution

Developing a software application for the residents, businesses and visitors of your city could put your city on the map as one of innovation and progressiveness. Perhaps you found this blog post because you’re seeking to establish your city as a technologically-advanced smart city, or maybe you simply want to provide visitors with a way to connect to local events and businesses. It may be that an application for your region already exists, but you’re looking for ways to increase user engagement and retention. No matter the desired outcome of your application, here are the top ten features we would recommend implementing as the core features within your city app:


#1. Sign in
A “Sign in” capability is typically a painless feature to include in an application. This functionality allows a user to customize the app settings to their liking. If they want to save an event, a point of interest, or customize the newsfeed to show information relevant to their interests, then a sign in feature is a must have.

#2. Maps and Transportation
For visitors and residents to easily locate points of interest, landmarks and businesses, we recommend including a map of your city. To keep it cost efficient, you could include an easily accessible static map, but if you’re hoping to keep your residents more engaged with the application, you may want to consider a dynamic map feature which includes public transportation information and directions. As a fun and educational add on, consider linking historical details with points of interest.

# 3. Parks and Recreation
Do you want to encourage the residents of your city to engage more with their surroundings? A “Parks and Recreation” section of your application could let your city app users know the location and business of nearby parks, motivating them to get outside and move. As an extra add-on, consider including greenway trails as well.

#4. Reserve Public Amenities
Along with the “Parks and Recreation” feature mentioned above, why not provide a simple way to reserve public amenities like swimming pools, soccer fields, and tennis courts? In the click of just a couple buttons, visitors and residents alike could reserve these spaces whenever and wherever they like.

#5. Calendar of Events
More than likely, your city or town has a ton of fabulous offerings from concerts and plays, to museums, to yoga in the park. Your city app is a great way to keep your community informed about upcoming events and relevant details including date, time, location and registration information – you can even highlight free events!

#6. Newsfeed
A newsfeed is a great way to get notified about news, upcoming events, and updates that may be relevant to app users. If there is a sign-on component to the application, it is common for users to have the ability to curate the types of notifications they receive in “Settings”.

#7. Settings
A “Settings” feature allows for customization of accounts so residents, visitors and businesses can view the information they are most interested in. This is also a place where account holders could upload credit card information to quickly register for events or pay bills. App users should be able to update their profile information and notifications settings here as well.

#8. Push Notifications
Want to let a visitor or resident know when their bill is due? When there are changes to an upcoming event they’ve registered for? When there is an emergency update? Push notifications are a simple and effective way of communicating important messages through a “pop-up” on their home phone screen and doesn’t require the application to be open to view the message.

#9. Billing
As a city resident, visitor, or business, there are a myriad of different services that must be paid for. From water and waste, to electricity, to parking and transportation fees, including a billing section is an easy way for app users to quickly pay their bills on the go.

#10. Report an Issue
If there’s debris in the road, a dangerous pothole, or a streetlight outage, citizens of your city want a way to quickly report any issue. You could select to send push notifications to let the user know that the report has been received, is in progress, or has been resolved. Need a way to handle all the incoming requests? Contact us and we would be happy to chat with you about an administrative dashboard.



These are just ten of the many features that could be implemented in a city application. Depending on your goals for your city application, you could add features to help support the transformation of your city into a “smart city”,  encourage your citizens to become more physically active and socially engaged, or simply make their lives easier by providing all city-related information into one place. Whatever your goals, there are a wide variety of feature implementations to get visitors, businesses and residents on board and engaged with your city app. 

Contact us to set up a time to chat with one of our team members where we can explore the best options for your software solution.

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Lithios is a web/mobile app development shop located in Raleigh, NC. This is a blog written by one of our guest contributors.

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