They “swiped right” on Sunset Park.
The Sunset Park Business Improvement District created a smartphone app, providing local business contact info, notifying users of community events, and even letting them order food from area restaurants. Nationally popular apps such as crowd-sourced business reviewer Yelp, coupon-hunting aid RetailMeNot, and food-delivery giant Seamless offer similar services, but the Sunset Park app puts the disparate services in the same place with a hyper focus on Fifth Avenue, the business improvement district’s leader said.
“Ours is a community app more than just a way of ordering from a restaurant or business,” said executive director Renee Giordano. “You can get everything through it, like coupons and events notifications. With the other ones, you’ll find things not just in your local neighborhood. This way people can find info about a business while they’re walking around Fifth Avenue.”
Staffer Eduardo Artica designed the free app — available for Apple and Android devices — to include a growing list of more than 500 shops between 38th and 64th streets. The business group has been building a free wifi network in the neighborhood over the last three years — mainly as a public service — but the business group realized it could use the increased connectivity to boost area businesses, Giordano said.
“We thought that once we had it, we needed to use it,” she said.
About 120 people have downloaded the app since the association launched it in November, Giordano said. The business group may offer Mandarin and Spanish versions if the English one does well.
Yelp sells personal data to third parties and food-delivery app GrubHub uses aggregate data for its own marketing endeavors, but the Sunset Park app doesn’t sell users’ personal information — or even ask for it, Giordano said.
“Sometimes the others have to sell their info — that’s how they make their money — whereas we don’t need to do that,” she said.