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Augustana Observer

ACES’ new mobile app improves functionality

Kyle Workman, the creator of the Augustana College Express Service ACES app. Photo by Brady Johnson.

The new ACES app, which allows students to request a ride with the Augustana College Escort Service (ACES) without having to call, was recently released to the student body.
The app enables students all over campus to request ACES rides through a smartphone app, with additional benefits compared to the previous telephone system. Students are now able to see which vehicle will pick them up, check their precise wait time and receive notifications when the ACES vehicle has arrived. This updated form of ACES has already increased the number of students using the on-campus car service.
“I think having the app is really important because it makes it easier for students to use ACES. Also, using the app makes it less intimidating to call ACES. Now you can ‘call’ ACES sitting on the couch at a party – you don’t even have to go outside,” sophomore Caleb Gruden, student director of ACES, said.
Some may have concerns that the app will decrease the number of jobs available at ACES.
“I don’t think there will be less jobs. I think if anything there will be more jobs. More people will be wanting to take ACES because of the app,” Gruden said.
The production of the app was originally conceived by Megan Janssen, Kevin Barbian, Tan Nguyen and Tyler May, now Augustana graduates. They created an Android version, which has been improved upon and ported to iOS by senior Kyle Workman.
“The problem with calling is there’s a big lack of communication between the students and the dispatcher. A lot of times the dispatcher will be like, ‘Your ride will be there in 20 minutes’ and the students end up waiting longer. Or if the ride gets there sooner, the driver has to wait longer. This app will solve the lack of communication and make it more efficient,” Workman said about the general idea behind the ACES app.
The next step for Kyle was the coding of the iOS app and the creation of a web application for dispatchers to see all requested rides. He worked on the app every day of the summer, sometimes for up to 10 hours a day.
Still, not all the work is done. Kyle has already planned on improving the ACES app and is preparing for the next steps.
To this day, I am still working hard on both the app and the dispatcher application to make things look nicer, work out bugs and improve overall usability. The next main update I am planning is creating a map view for the dispatcher. Right now, they can see all the requested rides in just a list, but it would be a lot easier to see the requested rides overlaying a maps view in some way. This should be completed by the end of fall break.”
The app is already being used frequently by students and is on its way to become more popular than the traditional calling of an ACES dispatcher. Junior Olivia Helton works as a dispatcher on the weekdays. Though her job has already changed, she doesn’t think people will give up calling ACES in the near future.
“We do have dead-spots on campus where students don’t have Wi-Fi, and sometimes students do really need to get that ride. Then if you don’t have wi-fi, you can’t really use the app. So, I don’t think we will go – at least not in the near future – phoneless quite yet. Maybe if the school wi-fi gets better, then, maybe, yes,” Helton said.
Within just a few days of the introduction of the ACES app, the number of students requesting rides had doubled. Monday, the night that the app dropped, around 120 people took ACES, instead of the usual 60-70 people. This success might be just the beginning for Workman. His on-campus app is the beginning of a desired future career after Augustana.
“This is exactly the kind of stuff that I want to do after college: app design and software development,” Workman said.
Photo Above: Kyle Workman, the creator of the Augustana College Express Service ACES app. Photo by Brady Johnson.

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ACES’ new mobile app improves functionality