A smartphone application that will allow users to track SafeRides and GUTS buses will be launched this semester after more than a year of research and planning by GUSA Senate and DoubleMap, a GPS service provider.
The student association team, comprised of former president and vice president Mike Meaney (SFS ’12) and Greg Laverriere (COL ’12) and Secretary of Information Technology Michael Crouch (MSB ’13), opted to partner with DoubleMap after extensive research into competing vendors. This process, along with uncertainty about the scope of project, led to a slower progression than initially anticipated.
“Obviously I was hoping that it would have been sooner than this. However, we understood that it had to go through a typical university protocol looking at multiple vendors, etc.,” Laverriere said.
Discussions about implementing a tracking device program began about a year and a half ago in response to student complaints about inefficient transportation. After Meaney, Laverriere and Crouch publicized interest in pursuing the project, DoubleMap approached Crouch about installing their service for free at Georgetown.
“We thought it would be a great idea, in a day and age where everyone is on their smartphone, to allow students to see where the buses are in real time,” Laverriere said.
Moving forward, GUSA members attended meetings with members of University Information Services, the Office of Transportation Management, Department of Public Safety, Facilities Repair and Maintenance, and representatives from the office of Chris Augostini, senior vice president and chief operating officer.
In November 2012 GUSA began to test the GPS software on Georgetown University Transportation Shuttles.
Crouch is looking forward to releasing the app to students.
“I think that students are often hesitant to go out into D.C. because they aren’t familiar with transportation methods and don’t know how GUTS works or feel that they don’t follow regular schedules. The DoubleMap application will enable students to manage their schedules more effectively,” Crouch said. “But over and above that, I think the greatest benefit will be with SafeRides vans. It will not only keep noise off the street but enable people to leverage the program more easily.”
Once launched, the tracking device will be available through the transit link on the Georgetown University Mobile App. The software resembles a classic map interface, but also has color-coded routes and dots that follow the vehicles in real time.
“Now [students] have the ability to see where the vans or GUTS buses are, adding and improving efficiency across the board,” Laverriere said. “If you look on your phone and see it’s a block away, it reduces street noise, increases safety [and] accounts for traffic. Things like that really help make student lives simpler.”
Students, too, are excited about DoubleMap.
“I’ll definitely be more willing to use Georgetown transportation now. Especially on the weekend, it will be really helpful to know when to leave or whether I should take a taxi,” Katie Kissinger (COL ’15) said.