Brockman Tree Tour Going Mobile!

For the past two quarters, a pair of undergrads in the University of Washington Information School (iSchool)—Omar Rojas and Jamy Southafeng—have been working on developing a mobile app for the Frank Brockman Memorial Campus Tree Tour.

Started in 1980, the Brockman Tree Tour guides visitors to explore 80 of the hundreds of tree species on the University of Washington campus. Most information from the tour is available online—though not in a mobile-friendly format—so most people still follow it through an old black-and-white booklet, with each tree marked as a number on the campus map (we also have a printed insert that updates some of the trees that have died or been removed). It’s long been a popular way to stroll through and experience campus, but the use of paper maps has largely declined in favor of real-time mapping and navigational services on mobile phones.

With this new app, users will be able to locate trees around them nowhere where they start the tour.

With this new app, users will be able to locate trees around them no matter where they start the tour.

Wanting to make the tour more modern and accessible, we’ve circulated the idea of adapting it for a mobile app for a few years. Yet we hadn’t been able to get the project running until Professor Emeritus Al Wagar picked up the baton about a year ago and started organizing a more concerted effort. He eventually rallied more interest and connected with SEFS doctoral student Isabel Carrera Zamanillo, who also works with students in the iSchool. She then helped recruit Omar and Jamy to design the app for their senior capstone project, and they set to work this past winter.

They’ve since put in countless hours storyboarding, sketching out wireframes, coding and testing their concept, and they’re now in the final stages of development. Designed to be used on Android phones, their app will enable users to set up customized tours and use GPS navigation through Google Maps to locate trees—and pull up images and info—from anywhere on campus. All you will have to do is launch the app on your phone wherever you’re standing, and you will see icons for trees on the tour around you. It’s going to create a far more fun, interactive and versatile experience, making it much easier, as well, to enjoy parts of the tour for short breaks between classes or during lunch.

As Omar and Jamy tweak the final details and functionality, you can check out their one-minute promotional video to get excited about their work! You’re also invited to the iSchool Capstone Night, which is coming up at the HUB on May 26. Omar and Jamy will be presenting their app, and two other iSchool students are working on projects with the Vogt Lab (please RSVP if you’d like to attend).

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