Phone program designer wants to know what Austin thinks; Vision 2020 seeks feedback on community-based app

Published 7:49 am Thursday, September 7, 2017

Bringing the community together? There’s an app for that.

A new mobile “super app” known as “CommunO2” has come to the attention of Vision 2020. The app is designed to connect people with community services faster and easier.

Now, Vision 2020 would like to make Austin a pilot community to test the app and is seeking feedback from the public on the concept.

Email newsletter signup

Vision 2020 will help interested people get access to the app.

“I was introduced to Joel Ackerman, the founder of the app, through Judy Lundy of the Development Corporation of Austin,” said Vision 2020 Director Greg Siems. “She ran into him at a conference and thought the app would be a good opportunity for Vision 2020 to look into because Vision 2020 is about bringing ideas and people together and seeing what works for the community.”

Siems said he met with Ackerman, who has been using Gaylord, Michigan, as a “pilot” community. Small scale testing has been done in St. Paul, Red Wing and Willmar.

“(CommunO2) is geared toward older adults that might have a harder time getting around or might have a harder time using technology or getting the most benefits out of it,” Siems said. “

“The point of the app is to put all of these different functions into one interface so you do not have to learn multiple apps.”

Siems said the app could be used by local agencies and service providers to better connect with people.

“The more people use it, the more people get excited about it, the easier it gets,” he said. “The goal is for it to be a community wide thing.”

In order for Austin to be a pilot community, Siems said there has to be enough interest from community organizations to push it forward. The main benefit of participating as a pilot community is that locals will be able to use the app’s services for free.

“In the future, if this platform gets up and rolling, it’s a business so it’s going to come at a cost to whoever wants to make use of the service,” Siems said. “We could be on the frontlines of this and be able to provide our input to help improve the program.”

Anyone interested in the app may contact Siems at or 507-437-3448. You may also contact Joel Ackerman at or 612-396-6521.

“We’re just looking for feedback and seeing if people are interested in the idea and think it would be something beneficial to the community and their organizations specifically,” Siems said.