Developers at the University of Iowa team up with campus partners to create apps and websites that meet an array of needs—like getting students a safe ride home, helping people find their way around campus, and relaying key commencement details.
The free, late-night transportation service NITE RIDE is giving safe rides home to students, faculty, and staff of all genders. The service is powered by an online ride request form rolled out in March 2018, which allows people with a HawkID to request rides from a mobile device or desktop when they need a late-night lift. It runs from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. in downtown Iowa City neighborhoods, and since the app launched NITE RIDE has given more than 18,167 riders safe rides to their destinations. The Custom Solutions and Integrations team in Information Technology Services (ITS) worked with the Department of Public Safety on the technology behind the service, developing a driver interface that runs on iPads in the NITE RIDE vehicles and a dispatcher interface for desktops in the Department of Public Safety.
BLOX, a new resource developed by the UI this year, provides powerful modern media tools that make authoring online learning material easier and enhance the student learning experience. Instructors can upload large files that are then able to be zoomed and annotated. With BLOX, they can enhance text with Beeline Reader for speed-reading and dyslexia, close caption and correct video, and create adaptive paths based on student assessments. BLOX is delivered securely through an integration with Iowa Courses Online (ICON), the UI’s course-management system. It was funded by the Innovations in Teaching with Technology Awards and Iowa Geriatrics Education Center.
This year—the 25th anniversary of UI Dance Marathon—ITS and student developers teamed up to update the student-run organization’s source for online donations. Through the Dance Marathon Donations Application, users contribute money to pediatric cancer patients and research, set fundraising goals, learn about dancers, and monitor their progress. Upgrades improved accessibility and mobile-friendliness, and increased its capacity. More than $485,000 was raised in a single day with thousands of users on the site at once. Since the site launched in November, $1.5 million has been donated through the app.
New features are added each year to Checkout@Iowa, an online, authoritative source for tracking and reserving equipment on campus—more than 20,000 items, from laptops to theatre decorations. In 2018, new features included adding MFK requirements for reservations, the ability to note wear and tear, catalogs with public view capabilities, thumbnail preview catalogs, and the option to ban users who shouldn’t have access to certain equipment. Use of the checkout application continues to grow; this year, nearly 3,869 new items were added and 25,097 reservations were made by 2,562 people. The two-year-old app is collaborative project between the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and ITS.
The redesigned commencement website is now the hub for all things commencement—everything guests need to know about attending ceremonies, like where to go, where to park, where to stay, and more. Ceremony information pulls from the university’s new events website, allowing for more consistent information across campus websites. Venue information, parking, and handicap-accessible parking are displayed through a custom mapping solution that utilizes the UI maps site. The redesigned commencement website delivered 3,036 livestreams of ceremonies to 32 countries and drew 13,861 pageviews over the December graduation weekend. The project was a joint effort of the Office of the Registrar, ITS, and the Office of Strategic Communication.
The Bongo (Bus on the Go) app provides bus riders with GPS-based, real-time information on bus locations and predicted arrival times—especially handy on bad-weather days. Updates to the route maps and improvements for Android devices were the focus of Bongo improvements this year, including the ability to filter favorite routes. Apple version improvements addressed bugs and set the stage for future enhancements requested by users. After the November 2018 updates, there were more than 1,000 downloads of the apps. The project is a joint endeavor of ITS and UI Parking and Transportation.
The HawkTools app gives UI students quick access to helpful campus resources, like information about residence halls, dining menus and locations, After Class events, Iowa Courses Online, MyUI, NITE RIDE, Safety and Support, and laundry availability. Updates made this year allow HawkTools to tie into the UI’s new event calendar, and a new OnIowa! section provides thousands of new students with details about orientation activities and allows them to easily add the events to their personal calendar.