The county may have an app for that

Published 9:31 am Wednesday, July 25, 2018

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


Orange County Commissioners Court is looking into alternative ways to reach the citizens.

Bar-Z Mobile, who is currently working with the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce, presented an app to the court on Tuesday at a Workshop held prior to the afternoon meeting.

“We are looking at ways to get communication to the people,” Commissioner John Gothia said. “This is a new potential way to get information for everyday and in an emergency.”

The app would be downloaded to a phone and the county could push notifications during an emergency.

Chris Keller, of Bar-Z Mobile, described it as an app within an app.

“The best platform to reach people today, especially those under 40, is the cell phone,” Keller said.

Keller added notifications could include road closures or weather conditions.

Being an app within and app, everything Orange County would be at the users fingertips all in one location. It would include a section for shopping, eating, and more.

The company is also talking to several school districts about partnering with the program.

Using geofencing, residents in one precinct would not get notifications specific to another precinct.

“While there will be some over lap,” Keller said. “But it could be specific to one school district or precinct.”

Commissioner Johnny Trahan was concerned of the number of alerts allowed from the app.

Each partner of the app will be allowed to push notifications.

“Some people alert me to death,” Trahan said. “We do want the emergency alerts.”

“Emergency alerts are one thing, they can go out immediately,” Keller said. “If it is not an emergnecy, it is put on a schedule. Partners can send out notifications for free, but nonpartners will have to pay a fee.”

The court did not make a decision on the app during the workshop.

The cost of the app is $5,999 and is good for one year. The app itself would be free for citizens to download when it becomes available.

The tentative date for an app to go live is September 15, if all the partners are in agreement at that time, according to Keller.

The app would be in addition to the Southeast Texas Alerting Network (STAN). STAN requires residents to register for notifications and the app requires it to be downloaded to a cell phone.