Anna Schaeffer
Mercury Staff

New app uses technology to improve UTD experience

A UTD app, with features designed to improve the campus experience, is now available to students.

Student Government and the Office of Information Technology launched UTD Mobile on Oct. 27. The app contains a variety of functions for students and visitors to the campus.

It includes features such as Comet Calendar, EZPay Mobile and a Directory, as well as Emergency feature, containing hotlines for UTD PD and other emergency services. A news component provides easy access to articles on current events at UTD, including sports updates and research breakthroughs. For visitors, there is a Virtual Tour with an interactive map and information regarding each stop in a prospective student’s visit.

In the top right of the main menu is a tab labeled Feedback. Any student, faculty, staff or visitor can leave suggestions or improvements for the app, and the comments go directly to OIT.  SG president JW Van Der Schans said he considers the feedback option to be the most valuable component.

“I sent in a suggestion that something should be added, and within a few days it was there,” Van Der Schans said. “Because it’s an app for all of UTD, the communication is pretty clear.”

Van Der Schans said this will lead to a more productive and versatile second version of the technology. He said a second phase will also likely include forms of existing apps, such as Shop UTD or UTD Crush Crew.

“There are a lot of apps for the university that I think can be condensed and put into that one application,” Van Der Schans said. “Parking has a lot of online tools. One of them was already implemented, which is the parking tracking, where you can see how many spaces are available in a parking garage. I think the future of (UTD Mobile) is that a lot of other apps will be condensed and then put into that app.”

It took about three years to create and launch the app. The idea, brought up during former SG President Brooke Knudtson’s term, developed over the course of three more presidents’ terms in collaboration with the Office of Information Technology. Van Der Schans and SG Vice President Alex Holcomb helped provide a beta version for SG to test.

“To my knowledge, the initial goal of the app was to have an additional resource that students could easily access,” Van Der Schans said. “From how I’ve experienced the app, it has achieved that goal.”

After a two-year proposal period, UTD Mobile was finally released. Van Der Schans said he expects the app to receive significantly more usage in the future, as well as have an improved aesthetic design and added components.