July 19, 2014 in Washington Voices

Spokane Valley helping businesses link to smartphone app

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Appointments

Business owners can set up free appointments at (509) 720-5038 or by email at pbilous@spokanevalley.org.

Spokane Valley wants to boost the number of local businesses featured on its free smartphone app.

City employees are contacting business owners this summer to explain the mobile app and offer to help get them listed at no cost with Google, which is what the app uses to determine the nearest commercial establishments to the smartphone user. They’re also inviting business owners to contact City Hall to set up appointments.

“It’s an educational effort,” said John Whitehead, the city’s human resources director who also designed and built the mobile app. “The evolution of this project is it was designed to be a tourist promotion on the part of the city, but what we’ve found is that it’s useful for general use, too.”

The app is intended to help people quickly find needed services and activities in Spokane Valley by using the GPS function on their smartphones to display nearby options listed in Google mapping programs such as Google Plus and Google My Business. Neither of the Google services charge listing fees.

Although geared primarily toward the kinds of services and activities that tourists and visitors would look for, such as restaurants and hotels, the mobile app also includes tabs for department and convenience stores, ATMs and parks. “What we want to do is expand it but not make it too complex,” Whitehead said.

The city wants to help all Valley businesses increase their online visibility, even if they wouldn’t benefit directly from a tourist-oriented mobile app.

“The great thing about the effort we’re doing now is those Google libraries are used for so many things, that businesses taking advantage of that will increase their online profile overall,” Whitehead said. “We can show them how they can categorize their businesses to show up on the mobile app … or what they can do to help them rise up in general search prioritizations.”


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