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Smartphones get smarter with ILRT innovation

17 March 2010

The University’s Institute for Learning and Research Technology (ILRT) has developed an exciting new way for students to get real-time campus information on their mobile phones.

The Mobile Campus Assistant (MCA) system is set up as a mobile-friendly website that can be easily accessed by anyone with a smartphone (a phone with internet capability). MCA integrates data from around the University of Bristol campus and also pulls in data from external websites, such as Bristol Transport. It allows students access to time- and location-sensitive information, such as where to find the nearest available PC or wireless hotspot, the time of the next bus to their hall of residence, which libraries are currently open and what events are taking place that day.

MCA has been highlighted by JISC as one of the most exciting projects to come out of its Rapid Innovation programme. JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) is funded by UK higher and further education funding bodies and provides leadership in the innovative use of digital technologies to support education and research. Its Rapid Innovation programme funded innovative small-scale technology projects designed to engage with new and unproven technologies to create tools specifically geared to address the needs of people working in higher education.

The ILRT project team comprised project manager Nikki Rogers, developers Mike Jones, Jasper Tredgold and Chris Bailey and designer Ben Hayes, with support from Nick Skelton (Residential and Mobile IT Manager) and Urfan Ali (Web and New Media Manager).

Nikki Rogers said: ‘There’s a lot more information we can add, such as student timetabling information, opening hours of University facilities, bike lock-up information and a library hook-up, so that students can see whether books they’ve reserved are on the shelf before they come in to collect them. It’s quite innovative – very few universities are doing anything similar, and there’s a lot of interest both within the University of Bristol and from other institutions. We’re currently looking at strategies to develop the project further.’

More information about MCA is available on the project blog.

Students are invited to access MCA via their phones and provide feedback via an online survey.

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