The city of Lansing joined the mobile age this week with a new tool aimed at helping smartphone users engage in a new way.

The city of Lansing joined the mobile age this week with a new tool aimed at helping smartphone users engage in a new way.

The city announced Wednesday its own downloadable application “GoLansingKS,” available for free for iPhone and Android smartphone platforms. Developed by CivicPlus, the Manhattan, Kan., based company that also overhauled the city's website last year, the app had been in the works for about six to nine months, according to Lansing Public Information Officer Ken Miller. It went live a couple weeks ago.

“We wanted to test it out a little bit,” before publicizing the release of the program, Miller said.

The app is available from the Apple Store for iPhones or the Google Play Store by entering “lansing ks” into the search bar.

Michael Ashford is a community engagement evangelist with CivicPlus. The company currently has 1,400 clients across the country and in places like Australia. But of the 10 similar mobile applications currently under development by the company, he said Lansing's is the first to launch.

“Lansing was actually a Beta client,” he said, allowing CivicPlus to use them as a “guinea pig” in their development of a mobile app template. “They were very much involved in the production in terms of what works, what doesn't work.”

The new mobile applications features feeds for the latest news updates from the city and a calendar of events, access to a directory of municipal contacts, fillable forms to register for city events or report potholes and other infrastructure issues.

“It's consolidating and bringing into one space all of those interactions people would like to have with their city government,” Ashford said.

Though the city already had a mobile version of its website available, Miller said the app aims to provide a sort of one-stop shop for the site's most interactive and important features.

“It's pretty intuitive,” he said, even for those who have little or no previous experiences with using mobile applications. “I think the strongest aspect is the interactive part of it.”

But because CivicPlus also developed and maintains the city's website, Ashford said Lansing can internally change the layout of the app on the fly if users or city staff want to integrate a particular feature.

“It's a direct tie,” between the mobile app and the website, he said, “so it just makes things that much easier.”

Miller said he sees uses for the app, for example, as the city proceeds in the development of its new comprehensive plan. Alongside the city's Facebook and Twitter feeds and the features normal website, Miller said the app is the latest in the city's efforts to stay current with its residents' needs and desires to stay up to date in new ways.

“I think we're trying to be as close to cutting edge as possible,” he said.