SGA green lights smartphone app for UH
The Student Government Association’s request for $59,125 of student fees for the development of a smartphone application was approved by the Student Fees Advisory Committee on Nov. 14.
“We need a Tier One way of communicating,” SGA President Michael Harding said.
“We are behind. Rice has an app. UT has an app.”
The app will include features such as Google Maps, which will allow users to take a photo of a building and have the program tell them the name of that building, the administrators in it and how to get to other places on campus from that location; a parking alert system would inform students of which parking lots have spaces available; students would receive push notifications from sports games; updates from campus police; and various other school resources.
Harris said SGA plans to talk to other student organizations like Coog Radio, The Daily Cougar and the Student Program Board to see how they can also benefit from the app.
The first version of the app is planned to be ready for student use in the spring, according to Turner Harris, SGA’s director of finance.
Harris said the price of the app is middle of the road compared to some of the developers they looked into.
“We’ve had to turn down some developers because they were outrageously priced,” Harris said. “Apps can go from a couple hundred dollars to half a million.We don’t have those kinds of funds.”
He said they’re trying to get quotes from as many developers as they can before they make a decision.
The SGA originally asked SFAC for an increase in its base budget of $10,750 to maintain and add features to the app, but it was denied.
SFAC turned down their request because they wanted the app to be controlled by University Relations after its development, according to SFAC Chair John Evans. University Relations does not receive funds from student fees.
Evans added that the money that is left over from developing the app should be given back to SFAC.
Harding said the app is essential for UH to keep up with its rival schools.
Students without a smartphone will still be able to use some of the features.
“They will still be able to use the web-based app,” Harding said. “Some of the functionalities, like Google Maps, can’t be used.”
The main difference, according to Harris, is that students without smartphones will not be able to use any of the features that require GPS.
“We want it (the app) to be a tool that students use everyday — a necessity,” Harris said.