New App Shares Information on Construction Projects
By Jill Kemp • A new, free smartphone app called Instant Input is now collecting public feedback on municipal projects. The service is being offered on 18 projects in Niagara Falls, and on several developments in Watkins Glen, Rochester and Geneva. Instant Input provides notifications, simple surveys and fast sharing on social media.
“It’s intended to help people stay informed,” says Instant Input CEO Tanya Zwahlen. “Traditional outreach methods, like public meetings, are important but all too often don’t reach the majority of the population affected by a project.”
To access the application on a smartphone, download Instant Input from the App Store or Google Play. The service is also available through a website at Instant Input.
Initially, the program began as a brainstorming idea back in October 2019, while Zwahlen was on vacation. She went to a local playground and found that all the equipment was gone, because the town was planning on updating it.
“The builders couldn’t find out my opinion. It’s too expensive to do that,” Zwahlen says. “I wished there was a way I could opt in and look on a map and find out what is going on in my community.”
There is a minority of people who are involved in community projects because most individuals are too busy to attend public meetings. Zwahlen started Instant Input to solve that problem.
Zwahlen began building the system in January 2020, gathered input from focus groups and formally launched it in June 2021. With this program, community members can engage with projects they care about and tell decision-makers what they are thinking about the initiatives.
So far, early adopters have high praise for the program. “It takes a lot of work to feel connected to what’s going on at the municipal level,” writes Steve in Rochester online. “Instant Input provides an easy way to achieve that sense of connection with my local government.”
Now the objective is to prove the concept. According to Zwahlen, there are very few other apps that tackle this communication challenge. There is one in Europe and in Western Canada, but no other options like this in the United States.
Eventually, the hope is to get Instant Input on the national scene. For now, Niagara Falls, Geneva, Watkins Glen and Rochester are leading the way.