Students from 52 tertiary education institutions across Victoria will be able to ensure they arrive on time for their next class with the launch of a new app at RMIT University.
The app was developed by RMIT staff and students from the School of Computer Science and IT: Shekhar Kelra, Dr Margaret Hamilton, Adriana Del Mastro, Matt Gale, Adam Dodd, Mitchell Stewart and Professor Athman Bouguettaya.
The project was initiated after research in the Mornington Peninsula Shire that showed poor travel options were the main reason why 20 per cent of high school students were not taking up university places in the area. The developers saw a need for more support for students living in regional areas who may have limited travel options.
"We wanted this app to be an easy way to maintain travel information for getting to class, so people who travel long distances don't have to memorise the whole trip details every day,” said Dodd, who is undertaking his honours year in computer science at RMIT.
"It was a massive challenge to source the transport and education data and combine them in such a way that students can easily find a simple journey to class,” Stewart said, who is in his third year of a Bachelor of Computer Science.
The app can also save trips, remember locations that were previously entered, update a user’s home address in case they change homes and don’t want to re-enter that information again for each trip, and grab a user’s current GPS location.
Dr Margaret Hamilton, from the School of Computer Science and IT, said the app might be built for Windows Phone in the future but the demand for this operating system is not as strong as it is for Android and iOS.
“We’ve got the data so we can morph it into any particular app we choose. So we are thinking Windows Phone might be a way to go in the future. It’s just not a lot of students have them at the moment.”
The team that developed the app is also looking at extending it to assist students with car-pooling which would be offered as a paid subscription, Hamilton said.
“We are trying to encourage people to get to university and not everyone is on a public transport route. Or, if you miss your train and say some people live in Mornington Peninsular Shire then it’s a long way away and there’s probably not another train for an hour or so,” she said.
“A student might say, ‘I’m travelling from Frankston into the city [Melbourne] to get to a class that starts at 8.30am and I just missed my 7.30am train – is anyone heading that way?’ And they send out an SMS to others who have the app. Then someone who is travelling along that way might say, ‘I’m on my way, I wasn’t going to stop at Frankston railway station but I can go there and pick you up say in 10 minutes from now. If there are several [who can pick that person up] they then can select which one.
“Car-pooling takes a lot of thinking and [planning] as well. There’s privacy and security issues and all sorts of things caught up in it.”
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