SmartCampus App Tracks JET Buses for Riders’ Convenience
JONESBORO – What if the official campus mobile app could tell you when the next city bus was arriving?
For Arkansas State University students who utilize the Jonesboro Economical Transit, or JET, the ability to see on a map when the next bus is approaching campus is the latest addition to the iOS version of A-State SmartCampus.
Free for download by anyone, A-State SmartCampus becomes an important tool for residents of Jonesboro and Craighead County.
“One of our primary missions is to be of service to the community,” Arkansas State Chief Information Officer Henry Torres said. “I think it's important to offer our students, and when possible our surrounding community such as in this case, technology that helps them and that in general makes life easier.”
Already one of the most-comprehensive, university-student information apps, A-State SmartCampus adds real-time tracking of the JET buses to its services. The innovation by Arkansas State University’s campus app team is a first of its kind in the state of Arkansas and in the Mid-South region. The addition places Arkansas among a handful of national leaders like Clemson, LSU, Stanford and Duke to integrate the real-time location and bus routes of the local public transportation system into the official university application.
“In real-time it shows the bus moving on the map letting the user
know how far it is from the next stop..."
“Henry approached us last year about collaborating on a way to make it easier for students to use our JET system,” Steve Ewart said. “Arkansas State has played a role in our transit system since it began in 2005. JET wants to do everything within its power to provide the students, faculty, staff, and visitors of Arkansas State University with a quality public-transit system.”
The integration was another example of the strong partnerships between A-State and community groups. The GPS-enabled tracking devices were already on-board the JET buses as a part of their routine equipment.
“After several discussions we both believed it would be a great benefit to all JET patrons including any campus bound students that frequent using JET to get around the city,” Torres said. “Steve’s team and the ITS Mobile App development team had several meetings to discuss the design and scope and off we went.”
Senior Technology Analyst Roshan Gautam was the project leader for the JET addition to SmartCampus. In working with A-State student interns and the city of Jonesboro staff, Gautam’s programmers provided not only a real-world application, but a valuable learning experience.
“This has been a challenging project, but one that allowed our student interns to be involved in the development of an app for an outside client,” Gautam said.
As the first four-year university in the state to employ Google’s advanced internal mapping system, it seemed a natural extension of the ability for students to get from classroom to classroom to making trips off-campus to residences or businesses.
“It shows the listing of all bus routes on campus and in the city, including all stops and the time of arrival at the stops,” Torres said. “In real-time it shows the bus moving on the map letting the user know how far it is from the next stop. It also shows area businesses and locations throughout the campus and the city bus routes.”
For city of Jonesboro residents, SmartCampus not only allows them to track JET buses, it also streams audio from KASU, the National Public Radio-member radio station, and from Red Wolf Radio, the university’s digital online student station. SmartCampus also has news from the university, athletics updates, university event calendars and other key information about Arkansas State University.
The JET module for SmartCampus is available now for iOS users. The Android version of SmartCampus will be upgraded with the JET tracking section later this academic year.
To download, go to AState.edu/SmartCampus for links to the official iTunes and Google stores.
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