It's all in the map with the UOregon iPhone app

The University of Oregon's official iPhone app, UOregon, is earning rave reviews from experts in mobile mapping technology.
 
The winter 2010-2011 edition of ArcNews, a publication focused on Geographic Information Systems, highlights the UOregon app's use of mobile mapping technology and the work of the university's InfoGraphics Lab, housed in the Department of Geography.
 
The free app features the latest news and campus events, class schedules, campus directory, photos and videos, and the Oregon Marching Band playing “Mighty Oregon.”
 
But the thing that sets the new app apart from other university apps is the map.
 
In addition to a detailed, searchable campus map, there’s a GPS feature that shows a user where he or she is on campus; maps showing accessible routes, bicycle routes and the safest routes at night; parking and transit maps; and aerial map overlays with images from 2008, 1947 and 1913.
 
In addition, there’s a “Walk Me” feature that plots a route anywhere on the 295-acre campus, including estimated walking time — a tool that will likely prove useful for many a freshmen still finding their way.
 
The app was developed over the summer by students and staff in the InfoGraphics Lab in the Department of Geography in conjunction with the Office of Communications.
 
Dana Maher, a graduate student in environmental studies and planning, public policy and management, was the lead programmer of the app. He had been working in the InfoGraphics Lab on another project when the app project was hatched.
 
Originally, the plan was to create an app for the Week of Welcome, the events and activities that take place the week before fall term begins. But as Maher and other team members began developing campus maps for the project, they realized they had the seed of a full-blown university app.
 
About that same time, there was significant interest on campus to create a UO themed iPhone app, said Ken Kato, assistant director of the InfoGraphics Lab.UOregon app
 
The UO could have hired an outside company to develop an app, but the result would have looked like every other university’s app, and it wouldn’t have the rich mapping capability of the UO app, Kato said.
 
“We have a lot of academic pride in the maps that are done here,” he said.
 
Maher came into the project with a background in physics, environmental studies and public policy, not as a geographer, Kato said. But he was able to combine those skills with the work done in the InfoGraphics Lab, finding ways to use the deep trove of campus mapping data developed over the years.
 
“I finally found something absolutely perfect for me,” Maher said. “”We’re providing tools for people to better understand their environment. It’s pretty thrilling. This going to be so useful here on campus.”
 
— Contact UO Web reporter Tim Christie at timc@uoregon.edu.