My favorite thing about working at Grand Rapids Community College is the small group of amazing people I get to collaborate with on a regular basis on really innovative and tech-driven projects (many of which we’ve managed to get through bureaucratic hurdles and actually put into practice – like being the first college in Michigan to offer text message alerts for students/employees in crisis situations back in 2005).
Some of these people (Szymon Machajewski, Garret Brand, and Eric Kunnen) and I recently entered GRCC’s “Armen Award” competition as a team with a mobile application built entirely by Szymon in his free time based on a concept we developed that would help save both students and the college time and money and promote conservation and sustainable practices at the college.
You can read the full write-up here, but essentially the app makes use of the college’s existing data systems to provide people with timely information to make better decisions. The core is a social networking platform that allows anyone to submit a conservation-minded idea, and crowdsource the evaluation process by allowing other users to vote up or down on the submissions.
We pre-loaded it with a number of our own ideas – for example:
- We can tie into the student ID system and provide students real-time updates on where parking is available on campus.
- Or we can allow people to “print” documents to their mobile phone rather than using printers.
- We can also tap into the under-utilized “GreenRide” service the college offers to promote carpooling.
- It could also analyze employee calendars and suggest carpooling when several employees are traveling to the same meeting at another location.
- We could also streamline the publishing of faculty absences so students are instantly notified when a faculty member cancels class (currently the system is cumbersome to manage and many commuter students arrive on campus long after the faculty absence has been published).
Our presentation and Q&A session begins at 1:12:07 in the video (many thanks to GRCC’s superb Media Technologies department for editing our scattered thoughts into a coherent presentation):
Unfortunately we didn’t place in the top three, but we know our idea is a good one and we’re going to pursue it anyway.