Navigation app to help incoming students

By Keith Hernandez

NIU is more than a month away from unveiling an app that will help students navigate campus.

The $20,000 software, known as CampusBird, will place a 3-D interactive map on the NIU mobile app and website, allowing phone and Internet users to virtually travel across campus, said Brad Hoey, director of University Marketing.

The program, which utilizes Google Maps, will identify not only the name of each campus building but also the departments and resources within.

“This is an area where the campus had some challenges in the past, and so we talked to a lot of students and faculty about this,” Hoey said. “This is something that we thought could be used not just for our current students and faculty on campus, but particularly visitors.”

The software will be updated regularly to notify commuters of road and parking lot closures. Another feature will allow students to plot a path through campus to find their classrooms or create personalized tours.

“That’s the great thing about it: It’s real time,” Hoey said. “And it’s really something that a lot of college campuses have gone to.”

Hope College in Holland, Mich., has used the program for its campus since summer 2013 and has received positive feedback from the student body, said Jason Cash, coordinator of Advancement Communications at the college.

“We’ve heard from students who really like [it] that it makes it easier, especially right now with our new students, to find various buildings on campus or what the best route is to … from point A to point B,” Cash said.

Although returning students, like senior communication major Dexter Matthews, will not benefit as much from the app, they still see the value in it.

“As a younger student, I think that would be amazing,” Mathews said. “I think that it’s needed, honestly, because not everyone knows where everything is … . The only thing would be that I would hope that it’s advertised correctly so that everyone knows it’s in existence.”