Williamsport -- The City of Williamsport has partnered with Citibot to offer a text messaging tool to residents called Text Williamsport.

Citibot is a communication tool for residents and government. Using text messaging, Citibot delivers messages, updates, and alerts to citzens and allows them to communicate directly with city staff.

Immediate use of the service will be to provide COVID-19 updates and related news. Residents can also use the service to search for city information.

To sign up for the messages, Williamsport residents are asked to text "hello" to 855.922.2818.

"Particularly now during the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a tool that allows us to get messages out to residents quickly," said Williamsport Mayor Derek Slaughter. "We're able to use the media, social media, and now also this messaging tool to communicate important messages."  

"Both city administration and Citibot staff will be monitoring the system," said Slaughter. The service is interactive, meaning subscribers can text questions or search the Williamsport City website for information.

Slaughter said the city is making use of the service's 60-day free trial to see whether or not it's a good fit. After the 60 days, city council will have a chance to review the analytics and make a decision on whether or not subscription would be a valuable use of taxpayer dollars.

"Almost everyone carries a cellphone," noted Slaughter. "This is a quick and easy tool to deliver a very brief text update to residents."

Based in Charleston, SC, Citibot LLC was formed in 2016 with a mission to make cities and counties accessible to all residents. CEO Bratton Riley, who is also Citibot's co-founder, was inspired by the evolution of the conversational 'chatbot' and its ability to help governments be more accessible and accountable to every resident.

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