Cycle safety app selected for Smart Cities expo

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18 May 2018

An Ara student cycle safety app has been selected for the 2018 Smart Cities Christchurch Innovation Expo on 21 May, which showcases interactive, cutting-edge exhibits by local and national innovators.

Bachelor of ICT students Elysse Mower and Rosy Wan developed the app during their internship with the Smart Cities team at the Christchurch City Council (CCC). They were delighted to be selected for the event, which was open to the business sector, technology companies, local innovators, tertiary institutions and central and local government.

Rosy Wan (L) and Elysse Mower developed the cycle safety app for their final year Bachelor of ICT research project and it will eventually used by 120 schools in Christchurch.

“We have been commissioned to develop the proof of concept web application for the cycle safe programme, which they run in schools to teach children how to cycle safely on the road. Currently the system is paper-based, so instructors are having to go out for an hour or so beforehand to draw the maps, identify traffic hazards, and add stop signs, so we had the task of creating  digital version to save them time and resources,” Elysse said.

The goal of the project was to automate the process of generating cycle safe maps, making it easier for young students to identify safe routes to use when cycling to and from a destination. Cycle Safe Smart Maps can be accessed anywhere or anytime, as it is hosted via the cloud, and is designed to be editable by the facilitators of the programme.

“The instructors can view the app through the webpage and use an editor toolbar,” Rosy said. “They can add the icons and indicate different road hazards, then once they have finished editing, they submit this to the admin and the admin views every change before the map is published to the public.”

After the proof of concept is ‘crowd-tested’ in this way for one school, it will be rolled out to 120 schools in Christchurch.

Elysse and Rosy, who majored in interactive media and software engineering respectively, have often worked in teams during their studies at Ara, however working with a client was “extremely” valuable for practising their workplace skills and networking. “It’s great getting real world experience and it looks very good on your CV when you have CCC as a reference,” Elysse said. “The Innovation expo is also a place where we can showcase our skills to prospective employers.”

Rosy found putting different skills together particularly interesting. “Previously we have focused on one development environment entirely, but this project combined the database, the frontend and the user control interface, integration, testing, hosting and the challenge of agile development. We had to create a small demonstration first and then we get the feedback from the client about what they wanted to change, and what their new requirements were, and we created another demo based on the suggestions.”

Through weekly ‘sprint’ sessions of demonstration and feedback, the students were able to tailor the project to the client’s needs and expectations.

The students used many of their technology toolkit – everything from Google maps API (Application programme interface) and IS, software development to Linux, database, HTML and JavaScript – but were able to adapt their knowledge to different versions of platforms and environments. “We have covered multiple languages in the course, as well as databases and scripting,” Elysse said.

Ara Computing senior tutor Amit Sarkar is particularly proud of their achievement because they were competing for selection with professional smart cities providers. “CCC have selected around 20 smart projects from boutique start-ups that are only focusing on smart cities projects, Internet of Things (IoT) companies and big data companies, so that is a real achievement.”

Amit’s own research project, working with a colleague from Microsoft partner Intergen, was also selected for the expo.

The 2018 Smart Cities Christchurch Innovation Expo, is on May 21, 10am - 4pm at Novotel Hotel, Cathedral Square Christchurch, hosted by CCC as a featured event at TechWeek 2018.