US: Arizona State University (ASU) became the first university to develop its own private geolocation mobile phone application, Spark. It is a location-based social networking service for ASU students. The San Francisco-based company DoubleDutch created this application, said Sarah Krznarich, student engagement manager at ASU Online.
“Spark allows students to explore their area and share the places they visit with their classmates,” Krznarich said. “ASU Online offers online degree programmes to students across the globe, and Spark’s aim is to help them find other ASU students located in different parts of the world,” explained Krznarich.
“ASU Online has about 3,000 students, with enrolment numbers rapidly increasing. A lot of students don’t live on campus,” Krznarich said, “which could contribute to a sense of isolation from peers.”
Spark, which is now available at the iTunes store, is currently only available on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. DoubleDutch will be releasing another version of the application that will work on other phones like the Android, Palm Pre and the new Blackberry Torch, said Lawrence Coburn, CEO of DoubleDutch.
Using Spark is easy, Krznarich said. Students simply log in and a list of places will appear. Then they select their current location, which is then broadcasted to their friends’ lists. Students can also leave a short comment about their location, similar to a Facebook status update.
Spark works through the GPS chip in each mobile device and functions in a similar manner as other location services like Foursquare, Twitter, and the mobile phone-only Facebook Places, Krznarich said.