St.Gallen is one of many Swiss city centers suffering a decline in footfall. With dwindling shopper numbers on the up, the University of Applied Sciences St.Gallen (FHS) devised a plan. Its idea was a digital information exchange between potential customers and shops, restaurants and other service providers.
Based on WhatsApp, the information exchange was at first intended to operate via an existing messaging app, according to a statement from the university. However, this would have meant “uncalculated dependence on foreign providers”, while also making it impossible to incorporate all the desired features.
With these issues on the table, Renuo AG in Wallisellen was contracted to develop an original app – the so-called City Messenger. “By developing the app ourselves, we could tailor it as best as possible to our customers’ needs and also meet Swiss data security standards,” commented Renuo CEO Samuel Steiner in the statement.
City Messenger has been available for download since Wednesday. “It is the first time that it has been possible to connect a whole city easily and directly via one communication channel and to get the latest information quickly,” said Professor Sigrid Hofer-Fischer from the Marketing Management department at FHS.
More than 30 businesses in central St.Gallen are already involved in the City Messenger information exchange. “We knew right away that we wanted to try out such an exciting and innovative idea that will hopefully bring more people back to the city center,” commented Ralph Bleuer of the city center association Pro City St.Gallen.
Because digitalization plays a key role in rejuvenating the city center, according to Samuel Zuberbühler, head of the St. Gallen’s location promotion office, the city is also supporting City Messenger. The project is being funded by Innosuisse, the federation’s innovation agency.