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For incoming students at the University of Oregon (UOregon) this past fall, orientation was as easy as reaching for their iPhones. The free UOregon iPhone app, originally developed as part of the annual Week of Welcome, not only helps students find the locations of classes, buildings, and points of interest on the university's 295-acre Eugene campus but also keeps them up to date with university events and news.
The app's Walk Me feature is particularly useful. It displays start and end points for any route on campus and provides an estimate of the time it will take to get to the stipulated destination. En route, students can listen to the Oregon Marching Band play the school's fight song, "Mighty Oregon"—another of the app's features.
Students can also view photos and videos of the campus, keep up with social media, and even access campus security in an emergency. The app is GPS enabled and displays the user's location on campus. In addition to walking directions, the app provides bicycle routes and the safest routes at night. Parking and transit maps and aerial map overlays with campus images from 2008, 1947, and 1913 are also included.
The UOregon iPhone app supplies routing to classes, points of interest, and events in addition to news, campus safety information, and links to social media.
The app has been a resounding success. Currently, 5,000 faculty and students use it, and it has garnered favorable Apple App Store ratings.
The students and staff in the university's own InfoGraphics Lab in the Department of Geography developed the UOregon iPhone app in conjunction with the Office of Communications as a free mobile mapping application that would provide maps and tools for the entire campus. The social media-savvy institution is actively involved in developing new ways of engaging students. Potential students learn about programs and admission processes and can interact with staff through the University of Oregon Admissions Facebook page.
The UOregon Interactive Map serves the most current and accurate information available through Web-based maps.
The lab's graduate student developers and staff had previous experience using Esri's Web mapping APIs and were early adopters of the ArcGIS API for iOS, so it took just a couple of weeks to build the initial iPhone prototype app. Because they wanted to go beyond simply geocoding points on Google maps, they needed an application that could accommodate high-resolution vector overlays and render them correctly. The ArcGIS API for iOS furnished this capability and plenty of resources and gave them the ability to serve maps out as tiled image caches.
Enabling the creation and maintenance of these Web and print maps of the campus, as well as the iPhone app, is a robust enterprise-wide geodatabase that provides staff and managers with asset information to the room level and includes utility systems, networks, hazardous materials, and capital construction projects located throughout the campus buildings and grounds. One of the biggest challenges in developing the app was rethinking and redesigning these existing campus maps for effective display on the iPhone's small screen.
The InfoGraphics Lab integrated search and map features in the ArcGIS API into the iPhone application. "We were clearly inspired by Esri's ArcGIS API for iOS and associated application. We used many different aspects of Esri's iPhone application to create ours," said Ken Kato, assistant director of University of Oregon's InfoGraphics Lab.
Walk Me routes students to locations and estimates how long it will take to walk there.
In addition to campus mapping and GIS, the lab works on a variety of other projects such as the Rural Lands Database and pilot projects that are building a statewide transportation framework. It also produced the acclaimed Atlas of Oregon (both print and interactive editions), which received the 2001 Association of American Geographers Globe Award for Public Understanding of Geography.
The lab maintains and makes available an array of high-quality maps for specific purposes. The InfoGraphics Lab Map Gallery displays samples of these campus maps as well as some of the stunning maps the lab has produced for atlases, reports, and projects.
The UOregon Interactive Map serves the most current and accurate information available through Web-based maps. It uses Flash, .NET, and ArcGIS Server to furnish many of the same utilities found in the phone app.
For more information on the UOregon iPhone app, visit uoregon.edu/mobile.