Date of Award

11-2016

Degree Name

MS in Computer Science

Department

Computer Science

Advisor

Chris Lupo

Abstract

The convenience of mobile applications combined with the efficiency and effectiveness provided by technology has contributed to an increased interest in mobile applications. Local groups and non-profit organizations often utilize outdated, manual processes and don’t have the resources or time to look into improving these systems. For Cal Poly students and other members of the community, this means there is an opportunity to apply technical skills and school projects to address these inefficiencies. This work explores whether a better system can be developed to provide the functionality of the existing system and enhance the experience of users through technology, data tracking, and automation. Two apps demonstrate the application of technology to meet needs within the San Luis Obispo community:

Poly Rides is an iOS and Android application that improves ridesharing for Cal Poly students. The idea stemmed from the Cal Poly Rideshare Facebook page, where the posting format for a ride is inconsistent, making it difficult to find a ride match. The Poly Rides app provides an improved user interface for posting, searching, and coordinating rides with other students. Its success has been validated through the popularity of the app. There were 3734 installations and 7925 messages sent as of May 27, 2016.

Woods is an iOS application for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch that improves the care tracking process for dogs at Woods Humane Society. The previous technique involved updating a whiteboard to manage the information and care for the avail- able dogs. The whiteboard had inconsistent and limited information, was often out of date, and did not have room to list all of the dogs. An app was created which automatically pulls the dogs from the shelter database, provides more detailed information and instructions, and is available for volunteers on their personal devices. The results revealed a much larger and more positive impact than originally anticipated; volunteers reported feeling more confident providing appropriate care to the dog (65.9%) and that they have more trust in the dogs’ information (52.3%). Of staff and volunteers, 83.9% prefer the app over the whiteboard and 10.7% have no preference. Dog breed, size, age, and photo, details not available on the whiteboard, were reported to be “Very” or “Extremely” important by 56.8% of volunteers.

This thesis describes some important requirements for developing community service mobile applications, offers suggestions for facilitating the development of a high quality product, and lists some useful resources for iOS development. Both apps not only reach their goal of improving a manual process in the local community, but also have the potential to improve and impact other communities around the world.

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