Designing Mobile Software Systems That Help Cities and Residents Address Life-Critical Needs

Trying to get important information through your phone is tough enough — it’s even more awkward when it’s crammed onto your screen, because the web app has been inadequately downsized from a design for full-sized computers. But until recently that’s been the practice — design for desktops, then adapt. “Mobile first” technology flips that approach, intentionally designing for mobile devices.

Since 2013, New Brunswick Community College has been home to the inaugural Industrial Research Chair in Mobile-First Technology, held by Dr. William McIver Jr.  Funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, with matching funds from industry, the Mobile First Technology Initiative focuses on the unique technical and design issues of mobiles.

These two projects, funded by the National Research Council, were done in partnership with the City of Fredericton and local companies. In one, the Chair developed a software system for Kognitiv Spark, a company that develops apps for Microsoft HoloLens, mixing reality and geographic data. This project will streamline inspections of public infrastructure, by letting inspectors locate fire hydrants then visualize their status and maintenance history in the field. It uses a geospatial database system developed to support data management.

In the other project, the Chair worked with ReadyPass, the creator of a mobile app by the same name for public transit riders. The system that was developed gives both passengers and bus drivers real-time bus location and schedule information via web apps and services.

The Research Chair is also developing follow-on research projects with both companies and expects to collaborate with them again.

Funded by: Contributions to Organizations Agreement, Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), National Research Council Canada

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