We know discovering new sights, sounds and eats in Downtown Phoenix isn’t always easy when you’re on foot or in an unfamiliar place. The newest, coolest restaurant may be around the corner, but closed. The fancy boutique shops may be open, but were they on 3rd Street or 3rd Avenue?

SmartPHX web app

Downtown explorers, fear not.
Thanks to the Arizona State University New Media Innovation Lab, CityScape, Downtown Phoenix Partnership, Phoenix Community Alliance and the City of Phoenix, SmartPHX is the first web app of its kind in Arizona. The SmartPHX web app uses geolocation technology to tell users where restaurants, nightlife, sports and other attractions are in relation to current user location, if the business is open and where they can find parking.

“This is one more way to expose downtown to more people and to get the message out: There are a ton of things to do in the heart of our city,” said Mayor Phil Gordon. “I’m downtown virtually every day and it is even hard for me to keep up. Luckily now my iPhone will help me out.”

Easy install
iPhone users can install the app by typing http://smartphx.com in Safari and following the instructions to save the web app as a shortcut on the home screen (iPad too, if you walk around with your 3G-enabled device). Android users should search for SmartPHX on the Android Market.

SmartPHX App

Must-have apps for Downtown Phoenix explorers

No charge
The web app is completely free to use and, as of right now, isn’t laden with ads, doesn’t require any kind of registration and won’t charge a fee for businesses to upload their information (the latter is still in the works).

“I’m excited because it brings downtown’s merchants in direct contact with consumers and vice versa. This is the only app that breaks down the barrier between businesses and their consumers and rewards both for using it,” Development Manager Jeff Moloznik of RED Development, the developer of CityScape, said.

Plan your trip
Users need not actually be in Downtown Phoenix to make use of SmartPHX. Regardless of your current location, the web app will show you what’s open, where the businesses are in relation to you and the nearest Light Rail stop or parking facility. Each listing is accompanied by a write up describing a bit about the business, along with links to their site.

Those in Downtown RIGHT NOW will love the filtering option, which allows users to see what businesses are open. While it may be surprising to many Downtown Phoenix haters, there are a ton of attractions that stay open until the later hours. Sure, the banks and office buildings are closed, but you can still get a drink, burger or even bowl a few rounds.

Or get a bite before and after the All-Star Fanfest. See you there!

  • Jay Mo Mo

    There’s also an Android version of this app too! Android users are not left out.

    • It’s a web app, not an iOS app, so it should work regardless of platform.

      And I mentioned Android availability in the store, but if you didn’t see that, I obviously didn’t do a very good job of that.

  • RHurst

    Great article!

  • Deb Krol

    So where does that leave Blackberry users?

  • What is the definition of downtown that this app uses? Ad paying restaurants and not much else?

    Today’s 6 events listed are:
    3 restaurants selling their food [that’s an event?],
    1 night club’s Saturday night event [the same weekly event they’ve been advertising for over 10 years]
    Only 1 of the YMCA’s many events today,
    a non-event – a doll museum closed over at heritage square.

    On closures – there are 4 blocks of an entire city street closed – much more important to planning a trip downtown -not mentioned

    On museums – there is an excellent art exhibit across the street from the Convention Center at Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center – not mentioned
    – and what about the museum that’s actually open today at Heritage Square?

    Why would I go downtown today from this app? there are dozens of interesting things to do downtown today, and I’ll be entertaining my brother in law and his girlfriend, visiting from their horse ranch out in the east valley, most of the next 10 hours doing them. Not one is mentioned in this app.

    I had hoped to get a few additonal ideas from the app. No such luck.

    I will never use this app again until someone proves to me that it contains something useful.

    • Seems you were hoping for it to be more of a real-time guide to the city, rather than a fairly static way of finding what’s nearby and open.

      I was careful not to talk about that in my piece, because perhaps I knew–or likely assumed–that the database wasn’t being maintained at the time this article published and obviously at least through today.

      Because public submissions aren’t yet enabled, there’s no way for businesses to submit their own events, either. As this app was made by students from ASU’s Cronkite school, I’m betting that the app makers are not presently in class and likely not doing any improvements on their own time, nor do I think they should be required to.

      To answer your question directly, yes, the app is terrible for finding out what’s going on RIGHT NOW. By excluding that, I was assuming that most people–like me, anyway–would recognize all the limitations I mentioned above, but without the access to the same data that I had. However, to make such a declaration would only be an assumption, because I’m sure stories change between departments and people.

      So maybe that’s my bad. If so, I apologize. Even if not, I do agree with your points and will pass them on to the people that can do something about them.

  • Thank you Tyler Hurst.

    Honest rapid informative response. I had been keying on the “you don’t have to be downtown to make use of”. I made too large an assumption of what that might mean.

    Looking at the basis for the relational database [what’s open now]:

    I just searched for cafes that are open now. The only one is “Roosevelt Row Art District” – not a cafe, even though there are 5 cafes open on Roosevelt Row at the moment, with at least another five in the lower downtown area as well.

    Galleries are a little better – Only 1 of them is closed – but closed before the app was published – 10 out of the other 12 listings are open with regular hours. But, the phone number for eye lounge is not their phone number – it’s an unaffiliated residence, and the parking facility listed is 10 blocks away.

    Restaurants – Crazy Jim’s is showing as open now. It is never open on Satruday.

    Just a few glances checked against my neuronic relational database.

    This relational database still needs some basic editing to be useful.


    • Helpful. I’ll pass this on, too. I know the management of the database is still up in the air, so I can’t promise anything will happen soon.

  • Very cool, and great to see this Downtown directory. But if DPJ readers are looking for something light rail-specific that organizes things by train station and is updated much more regularly (weekly), check out the new CityCircles app for iPhone.

    We just released version 1, which features COMPLETE train schedules for each light rail station, an event calendar, business listings and things-to-do itineraries. You can even “favorite” certain items to save for later. It’s a work in progress, and all feedback/suggestions are welcome.

    • Linking to a competing product in the comment section of your competitor likely isn’t the best way to get the admins of the site to approve your link.

      • Sorry, Tyler. I didn’t realize DPJ was a “light rail” publication. After all of the meetings we’d been involved in with DPJ and other stakeholders re: trying to make Downtown fun/livable, I’m sorry to see this kind of a response to my comment. It kind of sends a mixed message. But I appreciate the approval of the (abridged) comment.

        • I just said not to include a link in your comments. Reasoning aside, it’s typical for site admins to curate comments in a way to best serve their readers.

          If you’d like to discuss a story possibility, feel free to send an email to editor@downtownphoenixjournal.com

  • I understand. I think I’ll pass on the story idea though. If I am considered a “competitor,” I think I know where that story “possibility” will end up. Thanks.

    • Competitor was the wrong word, but hey, if you want to keep this antagonistic, that’s okay.