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Commencement App Announced

05/09/13
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By Melissa Beecher | Chronicle Staff

Published: May 9, 2013

Commencement day questions? There’s an app for that.

Information Technology Services has designed and produced the Boston College 2013 Commencement app -- www.bc.edu/2013 -- to help parents and grads navigate through the annual event, which this year takes place on May 20. From parking and diploma ceremonies to seating maps of Alumni Stadium and locations of complimentary water stands or places to buy flowers, the app is packed with helpful information.

For the past year, the BC Web Technology Group have worked with Commencement organizers from various departments to create the best user experience for campus visitors. Any smartphone user can enter the URL in his or her web browser and the complete website is downloaded to the phone. Once downloaded, the site can be accessed locally in its entirety — even if a user loses a Wi-Fi connection.

“Commencement is a special day not only for the graduates, but also their families who have invested so much in the education of their student, but may not be as familiar with the campus,” said Web Technology Manager Scott Olivieri. “This is a new technology and a new approach to help visitors navigate the campus.”

Vice President and University Secretary Terrence Devino, SJ, said access to this type of technology has become an expectation.

“In this day and age, every student is comfortable with technology. Apps are their world and we wanted to make sure Commencement was an optimal experience for students and their families,” said Fr. Devino. “From a practical standpoint, this is a great way to directly communicate with the thousands of people who will be joining us on the Boston College campus for Commencement.”

The app allows organizers to provide notifications to users – if rain changes the location of a ceremony, for example, users will see a notification icon appear in the upper right corner of the app with updated information. The ability to notify the public of changes instantly was of particular interest to Transportation and Parking Manager P.J. Cappadona, who is keenly aware of the challenges Commencement traffic can place on the community.

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“The app will provide better access to information for transportation-related matters, specifically related to satellite parking, shuttles, golf carts and all of the planning detail related to each. The opportunity to provide updates, should something change, is helpful to us,” said Cappadona.

“I love the links to driving directions, parking information and shuttle bus locators most,” he said. “Each is now available in a format that people tend to reach for when they need information – right on their phone. They do not have to try and find a program or a piece of paper while trying to navigate the streets of Brighton or the Mass Pike.”

Executive Director of Student Services Louise Lonabocker shared in the excitement surrounding the launch of the Commencement app.

“The extraordinary ITS team have managed to capture everything students and guests may need to know to plan and attend commencement including maps, parking locations, FAQs, and a listing of events for the weekend.  You can even find the exact location of flower vendors or ATM machines,” said Lonabocker. “And best of all? It works on any device.”

In addition, the app provides information about Senior Week, cap and gown rentals, Commencement speakers, the history of BC’s Commencement and moving information.

The app was designed by Kul Thapa. The technical team included  James O’Neill, Ramiro Oliva, Pravab Rana and Peter Salvitti. In creating the campus maps, ITS utilized support support from Facilities Management administrators Lynn Berkeley and Mark Lewis. Constantin Andronache, who works in research services, also provided formatting support.

“We’re all just really excited for the community to get this in their hands and start using this app,” said Olivieri.