By: Diane Stirling
(315) 443-8975

Syracuse University’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) recognized a team of School of Information Studies students among honors presented at the Department’s seventh annual DPS Awards ceremony earlier this month.

DPS Chief Anthony Callisto presented a Community Member Recognition Award to the app development team of students Rucha Avinash Somani, Yu Sun, and Jing Zhu. The students developed a mobile app that incorporates a Google map with DPS public safety notices, and has a messaging portal for all the releases and messages DPS emails to student listservs.

In presenting the award, Chief Callisto noted how the trio had dedicated time over almost a year to building a mobile app, working in conjunction with DPS personnel and under the supervision of iSchool Professor Yun Huang. He described how Jing developed the department’s relationship with the School, set general goals and guideline, and researched user preferences for the app builders. Rucha built an administrator platform from scratch, including an important override function to prevent the app from being hacked by someone hoping to spam users, he noted, while Yu coded both the underlying structure for the app and the functions that create the app’s phone-screen appearance. “All three of you have worked very hard to provide a new service and communications platform for us to reach Syracuse University students,” Callisto said. “We believe your work sets a perfect example for any future technological development we undertake through the iSchool. We’re very grateful for your help.”

The app provides students with pertinent public safety information delivered to their mobile devices, displaying the Department’s Google map of public safety notices in the University area. It also provides a continually updated “message” feed aggregating public safety notices, updates, information bulletins, and Orange Alert transmissions, and serves as a central platform for all DPS information resources. Buttons link to the Department’s social media feeds, bringing all sources of information, including useful crime prevention tips posted to the social media feeds weekly, into one easy-to-access location.

“Our experience working with Professor Huang and her student development team was a great learning experience all around,” noted Hannah Warren, DPS Public Information and Internal Communications Officer. “Our department was pushed to consider representing information in ways we’d never tried before, and the students were very patient in explaining the finer points to us. Our Department really appreciates all their hard work, and we’re so glad to include them on this special night as a thank you for their expertise,” she said.