Austin Siford, an 18-year-old sophomore from Martinsburg, has developed a free app that sends alerts about the status of the West Virginia University Personal Rapid Transit system _ green when it’s operational and red when it’s not. The app works with Android devices, Google Glass, and Android and Pebble smart watches.
Siford’s app is the first to generate automatic alerts to smart phones when information in a WVU transportation database changes. PRT status updates also show up automatically on the transportation website, MIX, WVU’s mobile website and on Twitter, @wvudot.
Dave Olsen, a web developer in University Relations-Web, helped Siford get access to the resources he needed to build the app, then worked with Trademark Licensing for approval to use the University’s name and trademarks for this product. The app includes a blue and gold PRT car icon.
“Like Austin’s work, the original request for providing these updates came from a student, Jared Crawford,” Olsen said. After Jared’s request, UR Web worked closely with Transportation officials, who embraced the idea, to build what’s called an API, or Application Programming Interface, for the data. The API is a way for computer applications to pass data between one another in the same language.
“Basically, as a University we’ve made this PRT status data available to anyone to re-use how they see fit,” Olsen said. “As Austin showed: want an Android app with the status updates? Have at it. Our students, with Austin and Jared as just a few examples, have fantastic ideas and are motivated to make things happen.”
Siford has been a student employee in Information Technology Services since September 2013, reporting to Information Security Services Director Alex Jalso. Siford, who is studying computer science and computer engineering, plans to customize the PRT Status app in future iterations, letting users choose which stations to monitor. He also plans to develop an iOS version of the app.
“It’s just not on my plate now; I’ve got school,” he said. “But I’ll do it at some point in the future.”
Despite his youth, Siford has extensive information security experience and is a self-employed consultant. He discovered multiple vulnerabilities on the Snapchat.com website and Snapchat iOS mobile application, and reported them along with detailed ways to fix the issues.
To download the app, Android users should go to the Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=me.austindizzy.wvuprtstatus.app
Google Glass users should click the “Get it on Glass” badge on Siford’s website (https://austindizzy.me/prt/), authenticate with their Google accounts and grant the app access to their Glass timeline.
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