Finding out about neighborhood crime, development, tax values, even trash and recycling pickup schedules just got a whole lot simpler with the launch of Asheville’s SimpliCity search engine.
Forget jumping down complicated website rabbit holes. Just enter an address or even just a street. And quickly get useful information.
SimpliCity will prompt you with a list of questions to help you zero in on what you’re looking for.
You can find information about properties, including the tax value, zoning, and links to the deed, plat, and property card. You can also find information about crime and development that has occurred around an address, street, or in a neighborhood. You can view the information on a map, and filter it to show only the information you are interested in. You can also find out who is responsible for maintaining that section of street, and how to contact them to take action. And in just a couple clicks you can find out when your trash and recycling are collected. SimpliCity serves up Asheville’s data, simplified.
It’s an original program specific to Asheville, developed by the City of Asheville.
“Two lead developers did innovative work on this, Cameron Carlyle and Dave Michelson,” said Scott Barnwell, the City’s Business and Public Technology Manager. What excites the developers who devised SimpliCity is the “real time” information it delivers to city residents.
“The site is recalculated every night,” explained Barnwell. That includes information such as the latest on crime and property transfers. “All the information gets stored in searchable formats so people can find it quickly.”
Longtime Malvern Hills resident Elaine Poovey is an early user of SimpliCity. She provided the city feedback on its ease of usability in its early stages.
“As an older resident using computers is sometimes not as easy for me,” Poovey said. “I was happy to find I was able to access information about my immediate vicinity; it excited me when I could see information of my own community.”
As former president of the Malvern Hills Neighborhood Association, Poovey said she especially likes SimpliCity’s search function that provides neighbor’s names and addresses. In a neighborhood experiencing revitalization, this can help community organizers identify newcomers and help with communication when it’s time to galvanize the neighborhood for grassroots initiatives.
Kenilworth resident Teddy Jordan sees the potential for citywide application for SimpliCity. A community organizer and past president of the Kenilworth Residents Association, Jordan is particularly interested in how SimpliCity could be used to search neighborhood information.
“It’s nice to have that database there where we find things,” Jordan said. “I’m interested in how neighborhoods can work together and this program lets you check for comparison purposes.”
Joe Fioccola lives in the West End-Clingman neighborhood, parts of which are still in transition. “SimpliCity helps me find out how things are zoned,” he said. Fioccola pointed to another useful aspect of the site. “It you’re curious about who owns that piece of property across the street, you can look it up,” he said.
Why SimpliCity now?
The City of Asheville had several web-based tools, like a simple searching tool, a crime mapper and a development mapper used by citizens and city employees. But those existing web-based mapping applications were built on a technology at the end of its life and no longer supported by the vendor.
“We wanted to ensure that citizens and employee could continue to access that information. We also wanted to make their jobs easier; simpler,” said Barnwell.
SimpliCity was shaped by this desire to create one new tool to replace a bunch of existing tools in such a way that it made easier for citizens and employees to get the information they needed.
So try it yourself and let us know how you like it. Visit SimpliCity.ashevillenc.gov.
Find out what’s going on all around you in an easy-to-use format. That’s our goal.