Bringing the County Council and the Local Community Closer

Disillusionment with the Government can cause people to feel disconnected from their local area. We aim to develop an app called DurhamCC - or Durham County Connect that facilitates increased engagement of the community in the council's decision making. With the recent proposal of a new Council HQ in the City Centre, 1000 new staff are expected to move into the city. It is essential for the community to have a sense of inclusion, therefore our app suggests solutions that can be adopted by the county council to make life easier for Durham residents by making all their services available in one place, making the new council building more accepted. This app may also be useful for students who move to the city every year in large numbers to easily access required information

Authentication The app services will only be available to registered County Durham residents (credentials can be verified using data from the electoral register).

Feedbacks and Complaints Instead of the process of registering and sending individual emails, users can post issues on a public forum (can choose to be anonymous), with a proposed system of likes (more popular posts appearing higher up). This can help prevent duplicate feedback.

Local Job Opportunities Residents can post local job opportunities such as "help moving house" or "helping an elderly person walk their dog" which shall facilitate interaction between locals and the student community who may be willing to take up errands to earn money. The county can also post opportunities with them for locals to get involved in, eg. looking for a local cafe owner to take up their catering in the new proposed HQ or calling citizens to volunteer in a local county-organised event.

Access to Public Amenities Users can get information about nearest bus stops, health centres, police stations etc. which has been implemented using HERE.com

Accessibility To make our app more accessible and user-friendly, in addition to having introductory videos, we propose having a colour-blind mode and integration of voice assistants like Google Home to perform tasks for people who may not be comfortable navigating around multiple pages or have a disability. Some examples include:

  • OK Google, file a complaint to the Council
  • Alexa, please switch to the colour blind mode
  • OK Google, please post a job on the County Connect App, "I need help moving my house"
  • Hey Siri, please list local jobs in the county.

The Voice Assistants could not be actually implemented due to unavoidable reasons such as Google Home not connecting to the university network, Siri not allowing free access and the need to develop new Alexa skills which we spent several hours on, however, could not actually implement due to steep learning curve as beginners.

We also make use of maps for our job opportunities feature using HERE.com and hosted on durhamcountyconnect.com from domain.com

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