University to test new app on Android, lockable charger stations proposed

Bobby Shipman

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Marcia Keissling announced that Information Technology will begin testing the new USI app for Androids at the Student Government Association meeting Jan. 15.

Part of USI’s Strategic Plan, which was implemented in 2012, focused on the creation of a new cell phone application that would be accessible to both Android and iPhone users.

A point of the plan focused on converting USI into a 24/7 campus, for which a commitee was formed. The new app was one of the initiatives set forth as a result of their efforts.

The current app is only available on an Apple platform.

Executive Director of Information Technology Richard Toeniskoetter said he hopes the app will be available for users in the next 45 days.

He said there are two ways to go about creating an application.

“You either completely build and app from scratch or you can use a kind of canned app structure by getting a template to bud the app from,” Toeniskoetter said.

Information Technology chose to use a template from the Ellucian application, which provides USI’s banner system, a comprehensive computer information system that contains information about courses, students, faculty, staff and alumni.

The app will be similar to the orginal USI app allowing students to check their schedules and see upcoming events.

“Over time, you will be able to enroll in your courses through the app,” Toenisketter said.

He said by testing the app first and modifying it they are able to bring in features students want to see.

Students can use the app’s mobile email to recommend alterations or additions to the app.

They are testing on Androids first because Apple has tighter rules for its application process and will take more time to get approved by the company, he said.

Toeniskoetter said the testing might delay his predicted release date if results show more alterations are needed.

SGA members approved funding to install a ten-bay locker cell phone charger station.

Zack Mathis, SGA President, said the locker will have security pins that students can use to keep their phones safe from theft while charging.

Mathis said SGA thought putting it near one of the lunch areas would be helpful for students who forget their chargers or depleted their cell phone’s battery.

The cost is estimated between $4,000 to $5,000.

If the one in the UC goes well, Mathis said they would reach out to the college deans and request to have a locker station placed in every academic building on campus.

“We will see how people like it first and go from there,” Mathis said.

The money was approved and will come from the SGA budget.

Mathis said SGA event planners have spent money well, always coming in under budget, which allows them to accumulate extra funds to put toward amenities like the charger stations without going over the organization’s annual budget.

To get the station approved, SGA will have to go through University Relations to verify that it will match the university’s aesthetic.

Mathis said members hope to have it installed within the semester.

Senior criminal justice major Derek Hill said he thinks the stations would be unnecessary and cause a distraction.

“In all honesty, I think since our rooms – and since most universities have wall outlets or outlets in their tables in lecture halls – there shouldn’t need to be these stations,” Hill said.

Hill said most students charge their phones at the library and that there are portable chargers now that fit in their pockets.

He said he thinks the money would be better spent elsewhere.

Sophomore biology major Leah Adams said the charger stations would definitely be utilized and beneficial to everyone.

“I do think they would be popular,” Adams said. “People are constantly on their phones and every now and then there are instances when they need to charge their phones. In that case, people would simply go to the station nearest them.”

Taylor Fox contributed to this story

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