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Leveraging Technology for a Healthier Campus

Project Overview

Increasingly concerned about the well-being of students and staff who prefer to take the elevators to get around, our client decided to promote the use of stairs within the campus. Instead of contemplating extreme steps such as shutting down elevators, they wanted to leverage technology to get around the problem. The beacon-based application would significantly reduce elevator wait time, congestion, and energy consumption.

Business Requirement

  • A mobile application that encourages students and staff to take the stairs
  • A web interface for the administrator to manage users and content

QBurst Solution

QBurst developed an app that uses BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) technology to track movement of students and staff within the campus. The beacon-based app also displays statistics such as how many people entered the building and how many times the stairwell was used.

Gamification elements were incorporated to make the activity more competitive. App users are ranked based on the miles walked, stairs covered, and calories burned. Top performers are rewarded and their names displayed in the app. Individuals and groups are also rewarded for using the stairs frequently.

Development

The app tracks the use of stairs through the interaction of cell phones and beacons/Bluetooth Smart transmitters deployed in stairwells. We developed iOS and Android mobile apps using PhoneGap, an open source framework for building cross-platform mobile apps. Calories burned is calculated based on the frequency of user movement. The web admin panel was created using Catalyst web framework for Perl.

Other features under development include heat mapping to track available study areas and points for signing up for administrative focus groups, reporting facility problems, participating in market research for the school, and completing surveys.

Client Profile

The client is one of the oldest and most prestigious business schools in the world, established in 1990 by the New York University as the School of Commerce, Accounts, and Finance.

Key Features

  • Utilizes location-based iBeacon technology
  • Available for use by anyone with a Stern Net ID
  • Calculates number of stairs taken
  • Tracks changes in body weight over time
  • Turn tracking on and off
  • Participate anonymously
  • Lists top performers on a leaderboard

Technologies

  • BLE
  • Estimote
  • Perl
  • Catalyst
  • PhoneGap
  • iBeacon

Business Benefits

  • Number of students who use the stairs increased substantially.
  • Gamification element promoted student participation.
  • Significant drop in elevator wait time and energy consumption.