Page 37 - Campus Technology, October/November 2018
P. 37

Web & Emerging Technologies team member Ann Jusino
The university chose Apple’s iBeacon software over other vendor offerings because the protocol was easiest to implement, noted Dent. “We went with this product because of its dashboard — the idea that it is very simple to reprogram a beacon that needs to be moved and any one of us can do it. We don’t have to be a developer to figure out how to do it. The other products weren’t at the same level as far as user experience from the administrative end.”
Programming was done using the Ionic Frame- work, a free, open source, multi-platform software development kit for mobile applications.
One challenge the design team ran into involved tweaking the sensitivity and placement of the bea- cons. The placement on library bookshelves had to be carefully designed so that users would not get conflicting location notifications. To address this problem, St. John’s created an algorithm to control the variability of beacon signal strength. The algo- rithm allows for the weighted total of signals emitted within a certain timespan to be used as an indicator of the beacon likely to be closest to the user. This means that the user is far more likely to receive the most accurate location notification. “We don’t want students walking into a space and getting pinged from two different beacons,” Dent said.
The project team also had to work with develop- ers of the library catalog, which was built using open source tools, to pull the correct metadata into the
app to display as a student is searching for a book. The initial student response to the rollout has been very positive, Dent said. “Students appreci- ate that this task is now supported by technology.” She expects an initial spike in use because of the novelty aspect. “When it levels off, we hope to see an increase in circulation.” To sustain usage, the li- brary plans to work with faculty members. “If they suggest that students use the app in a syllabus, for instance, the connection to coursework is more ap- parent than if the library just advertises a new app.” The BKFINDr app is not a stand-alone project. It was designed to be implemented as a package with two other mobile apps developed to help students in the library. One, called InQuery, helps students use library resources to write research papers; the other is a mobile book checkout app. “With these three apps, students can complete the process of finding a resource, getting the resource and leav- ing the library,” Dent explained. “It simulates in the digital space those three actions that most of our
users take at some point.”
The three apps are part of a larger strategy to move
toward an environment that is mostly mobile. “As we uncover additional services that can be mobilized,” Dent said, “that is what we are aiming to do.”
David Raths is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia.
Mobile developer Kiichi Takeuchi
CAMPUS TECHNOLOGY | October/November 2018

   35   36   37   38   39