UPDATE: Since this blog was written, Lonely Planet has introduced a rather nice Birmingham App for iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad users. It provides students with information about the city, helping them settle into their new surroundings as quickly as possible. Whilst it's a great App, it's specifically targeted at students so I still think that there's space for an official Birmingham App.
Recently, I went onto Apple's iTunes store and searched for an app about Birmingham. There were actually quite a number of them, but upon closer inspection, it became apparent that most were specifically targeted at niche features/organisations within the city, such as the football clubs. A number of independent developers were offering Birmingham apps, however, most were demanding a fee and they mainly consisted of directory services or roads maps.
A city of Birmingham app
It appears that there are no official 'city of Birmingham' apps endorsed or provided by the local city council! I was amazed that one of the largest local authorities in Europe wasn't embracing this new technology, and we, as citizens of Birmingham, aren't being provided with an official app that we could download and use for free.
What could an app for Birmingham provide?
Like many standard commercial apps, the range of information is almost endless. Yet, I'd have thought that an app that allowed the consumer to access all areas of Birmingham’s core services, further to transport information, routes, traffic and news updates, events and places of interest, would be an invaluable source of information.
A commercial opportunity for Birmingham City Council
The city of Birmingham app could be developed in conjunction with a third party. The council would provide information which would make up a significant portion of the app's offering, and they'd also promote the app to the people of Birmingham. The project could then be funded through sponsorship, advertising revenue and commercial partners.
A Birmingham app for visitors
A number of European cities have already developed apps that allow visitors to download a guide of the local area. A comprehensive multilingual app would also offer the opportunity for the city to promote itself to the tourist industry, as well as providing a valuable source of information to the ethnical diverse communities within the city.
An app as a source of social cohesion
By providing a clear focus of communication through application technology, the city of Birmingham could take the lead as a 'city of innovation'. An app could become a highly effective form of cheap, sustainable communication and social engagement. So, lets have an app for Birmingham!