City to subscribe to community calendar service

Council approves one-time $3,500 fee; service to launch in March

The City of Webster City will soon have a service available that will track local events and link businesses, organizations and groups who wish to promote activities to the community.

The city’s vitality director, Lindsay Henderson said the new service will offer a robust community calendar which will serve as a one-stop location for area events.

Henderson said that during the community engagement as the city was working to rebrand and create a new website, communication was determined to be one of the major issues.

“It was hard to get the information out,” she said. “With so many sources like social media, websites, traditional media, there was just no one-stop-shop for what’s happening in town.”

As the new city website was being built, Henderson said they realized that a robust community calendar was needed. But many of the options available would have required manual uploads and the overwhelming task of maintaining an accurate calendar.

At a forum in August, she learned about a service called Locable, which featured a community calendar with the ability for communities, businesses and nonprofits to promote events and cross-promote each other’s events.

She reached out to the company and looked at some demonstrations of the product.

“We thought it seemed almost too good to be true,” she said. “But it’s success depends upon the adoption — how many people will actually use it. It’s like a community’s own social network.”

The program is a self-automated distribution platform, which will allow the city to have a link out to the calendar on the city website, while allowing the city to import the school calendar, the chamber calendar or other group’s that sign up for a free account. Henderson said then groups can upload their own individual events to the calendar. The city would serve as the anchor subscriber, she said. A button on the city website would take users to the calendar.

“Anybody that uses the service can be followed by anybody else,” she said, much like on other social media platforms.

“We would try to capture as many organizations and businesses as we could,” she said.

The City Council Monday night approved the initial one-time launch expense of up to $3,500. From there, the city would pay $300 per year for the subscription service.

Webster City will be the first community in the state to use the service, according to Henderson.

“This is cutting-edge technology,” she said. “We’re going to be among the first to give it a-go.”

Henderson said she’ll work with the company to customize the services within the approved launch expense. Then in February, she plans to meet with community champions who have organizations or businesses that could benefit from the new calendar.

“We’ll need them to help get the word out and help other people get on board,” she said.

The calendar would then launch in March, with a strong promotion to get community members to adopt the service.

“Again, it’s absolutely free to create an account to promote individual events,” she said. “From that point, there are a lot of services that businesses and nonprofits can tap into for an additional cost.”