Morrisville Central: A Beacon of Smart City Innovation

Lithios Apps

Ahead of the Curve

Rated as one of the best places to live in North Carolina, Morrisville encapsulates small city charm with modern opportunity. Known for its unique appeal and vibrant community, Morrisville boasts a diverse and inclusive atmosphere. Over the past two decades, the city has experienced significant population growth, expanding from approximately 5,000 residents in 2000 to over 31,000 in 2022. Its strategic location south of the Research Triangle Park—a hub of startups and innovative tech companies—and west of RDU International Airport offers a perfect blend of suburban tranquility and urban convenience.

Additionally, the growing town is renowned for its highly rated public schools. Its family-friendly environment is enriched by numerous parks, picturesque lakes, playgrounds, and one of the tallest indoor climbing gyms in the Southeast. It’s also home to Lenovo’s headquarters, underscoring its importance in the tech industry.

Despite these remarkable attributes, a few years ago Morrisville lacked a centralized mobile app to streamline their city services and information. Imagine booking free rides, reporting concerns, viewing court, field, and electric charger statuses, and accessing information about city events all in one place. That's the ease that city apps can offer, and it was something that Morrisville was previously missing.

From Website to Mobile App

City apps are comprehensive digital platforms designed to consolidate and centralize information about a town’s amenities, services, and events, making it easily accessible for both residents and visitors. They offer a wide range of benefits, such as real-time updates on public transportation, local event calendars, interactive maps, emergency alerts, and access to municipal services.

Additionally, city apps enhance community engagement by providing tools for residents to connect with their local governments and each other. Lithios began the ambitious project of building Morrisville’s city application in 2022, aiming to bring all the town's amenities and information into one convenient platform.

“Our previous mobile app, which was a clone of the website for several years, had 72 total users just before we launched the new mobile app,” said Billy Whitehead, Morrisville’s Smart City Program Manager.

Whitehead and other town officials collaborated with residents and businesses to identify their frustration points, with a major issue being the difficulty of finding information easily on the city website. After releasing several iterations with continual improvements over the span of two years, the Morrisville Central app now offers a range of engaging features designed to enhance the community experience for residents.

“After one year of the app's release, we currently have 786 total users with our 5-year goal being 1,000 users,” continued Whitehead.

During the development phase, Lithios integrated the app with the city's existing systems, such as APIs, IoT dashboards, and various other platforms. Now the city enjoys an aggregated and cohesive mobile app instead of a maze of sub-sites and links that was the system beforehand.  

“I think the true power of the mobile app is modernizing the way we transmit data to residents without having to change or add new duties to employees. The added convenience of a mobile app gives residents instant access to all town resources with just a single click rather than having to search for the town URL, adding a favorite or navigating the town page, and then viewing the resource,” explained Whitehead.

Today, users can book free rides on the Morrisville Smart Shuttle, access information about upcoming events, report any city concerns, and view an interactive town map—all within the app. Additionally, users can conveniently save amenities to their dashboard so they can quickly view any openings for electric chargers, courts, fields, and gates, in their area. Currently, over 140 amenities, including pools, parks, tennis courts, and more, have been saved by residents through the app.

“It centralizes all of the Town's platforms into one package for the resident, rather than sending them to three or four different websites to see information from the various departments,” said Whitehead.

Additionally, the app serves as a gateway to the city’s social media pages, job listings, live meeting streams, and sections to request public records or e-Permits. This integration ensures that residents have easy access to essential services and updates. Furthermore, the landing page of the app promotes town happenings and meetings, seamlessly tying in the address of every event to native navigation apps, making it incredibly user-friendly.

“Minimizing the amount of reading and searching a resident must do to be more informed about Town events directly encourages engagement. When you make it easy, it makes more people want to participate,” said Whitehead.

The app has currently connected residents with over 775 town resources and locations, demonstrating its effectiveness in centralizing information and enhancing accessibility. With its comprehensive and user-centric platform, Morrisville Central simplifies access to important town information while also fostering a strong sense of community. Residents are now further informed and engaged, leading to increased participation in local events and a more connected community overall.

Celebrating Success and Looking Forward

The convenience and connectivity provided by the Morrisville Central app have significantly contributed to its success. In 2023, the app was honored with the prestigious Smart50 award, which recognizes the top 50 most transformative smart projects in the nation each year. This accolade is a testament to the app’s innovative design and its positive impact on the community.

“For us, the most useful features are the events and meetings page, the build-your-own dashboard, and the Report a Concern screen,” said Whitehead. “We believe those three sections are essential to the continued success of the app as they deliver the most up-to-date information from the town to the residents.”

Looking ahead, the future of mobile apps and technology in Morrisville holds endless possibilities. As a tech-focused town located near major cities and the renowned Research Triangle Park, Morrisville is perfectly positioned to be at the forefront of technological advancements. Future iterations of the app could include augmented reality features for exploring local landmarks, AI-driven personalized recommendations for residents, and enhanced integration with smart home devices to create a seamless living experience.

Ultimately, Morrisville Central stands as a testament to the city’s commitment to leveraging technology to foster community engagement and enhance the quality of life for its residents. As technology continues to evolve, Morrisville is poised to embrace new innovations that will further solidify its reputation as a forward-thinking and connected community.

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