Writer / Janelle Morrison Whether you are a local resident or a visiting guest of Carmel, there is a central repository of event, dining and shopping information that is available now with just the touch of an app. The city of Carmel has recently launched its Carmel Community Guide app, connecting its residents and visitors with the myriad of businesses, restaurants, shops and entertainment venues throughout the city. As the city continues to experience growth in its central core, it became even more important to have a mechanism in place to distribute information that would be accessible and appealing to a wide span of demographics. Representatives of the city Melanie Lentz, Project Manager Community Relations and Economic Development, and Nancy Heck, Director of Community Relations and Economic Development, have been working on this concept for a few years. Working with Bluebridge, a Fishers-based company, enabled the pair to put together a viable product that would be auto-populated with information listed in the Visit Hamilton County app while giving Lentz and Heck the ability to manage the information manually as well. The app works with Apple or Android platforms and boasts an attractive interface design and effective usability that is appealing to all who download it. Its enticing logo was designed by the Wilkerson Bros., an illustration studio who specializes in print, web and multimedia design. “Nancy and I have been working on the concept of the app for quite some time,” Lentz said. “The issues that we kept running into were how we would be able to keep the app updated, and secondly, where would we get our information fed from because we don’t have the staff to continuously update that? “Our solution was Bluebridge who gave us the capability of utilizing the Carmel information feed from the ‘Visit Hamilton County’ app and auto-populating our app. That was a huge sell to us. We also wanted the capability of making our updates. For example, we added the Carmel Caffeine Trail event, so that it is a listed attraction in our app. We also added local bike routes and have a link to a pdf that pulls up the Carmel Access Bikeways, a network of bike routes and loops in Carmel.” Lentz explained that the app will be the “go-to” for local events and festivals and that she would like to continue to work with local organizers to assist in promoting their major events, concerts, etc. “We are seeing the payoff of our investment in our central core and our public private partnerships with the amount of foot traffic we are seeing in the areas like the Arts and Design District. “This app is about letting people know what’s going on in our city. I’m still surprised when I get out into the community and start talking to people to find out that some still have no idea that there are things to see and do inside City Center too. After awareness, our next big focus with the app is using it to help our merchants be successful by bringing people to them and keep our residents informed.” Interacting with the end-users is another function of the app that Lentz and Heck are developing along with the app’s creators. “We are exploring ways for people to interact with the app,” Lentz said. “We are considering offering discount coupons and partnering with local businesses and restaurants. We can push notifications through the app on local ‘specials’ for those who choose to receive the notifications, contests or event information. “The developers also have the ability to dial in on specific areas to notify people in case of an emergency-related announcement or special announcement relevant to an ongoing event. We are going to continue to branch out and create a network of organizations that will hopefully want to use our app to help promote their events. We are taking this one step a time and want to put our primary focus on the awareness of our app and getting people to download it and share it with their family, friends and co-workers. “We have our social media links tied into the app, so users can access our Facebook and Twitter accounts and become even more engaged that way as well. At the OneZone business networking event last month, we had information about the app at our booth and enjoyed introducing the attendees to our app and assisting people with downloading it on their smartphones.” Lentz plans to work with local area hotels and provide hotel guests with brochures on the app, so that they can check out what is available to do during their stay in Carmel. The Carmel Community Guide app is downloadable now and ready for people to explore the city of Carmel and find out where they can go to experience the city in a memorable and meaningful way. To download the app, go to the App Store or Google Play and search “Carmel IN Community Guide.” The app is available free of charge.