Jensen: Iowa State needs to create tech-savvy, compatible environment

Derek Jensen

Chances are you own a smartphone. After the purchase, you begin finding apps that you’ve seen others use or just begin the exploration process. You’re addicted to this device because the ways of being connected have truly multiplied. Not only can you make calls and send messages, but you can update your social networks, read the latest news, browse the Internet and use apps that make life streamlined.

We’re living in a smartphone world. More importantly, college campuses are heavily consumed with smartphones. The problem lies in that our campus lacks the embracement of being able to use smartphones among our activities within the college ecosystem.

A 2010 study done at Ball State found the following: “The percentage of students with a smartphone rose from 27 percent in February 2009 to 49 percent this year.”

I can only suspect that percentage is higher today along with the relation of Ball State being a school in the Midwest like Iowa State.

To embrace the potential that smartphones and accompanying apps hold, the negligence could be because of two reasons. One, we simply don’t know the potential, and two, we lack a system that looks at what current technology could be built into the Iowa State campus ecosystem.

We are a science and technology institution that has many smartphone users not being able to fully use their device along with the many helpful apps out there.

I’m pushing for an ISU campus that is compatible with many popular and useful apps to make our smartphone experience that much better. To start, we begin in the dining services department.

An area of our campus or of any campus with the greatest activity are the dining centers. These are places where many gather and probably use their smartphone the most. Before you can begin to enjoy your food or refreshment, you must purchase the meal, and the technology we have is built into our ID card.

This method certainly works, but I’m arguing that we already have an ID card called our smartphone. Imagine going to the dining center of your choice and just taking out your smartphone that is probably at your hip or even in your hands, then pinging a dedicated station for the university to record and track the necessary information.

Now outside of meal plans, many use cash or credit cards to make their purchases. For this, we have services like Dwolla (which is based out of Des Moines) and Square. The full potential here is that you don’t worry about carrying any physical cash or even your plastic. It’s all on your smartphone ready for you to use with provided capability in the dining centers.

Rather than having all these clunky cash registers, you have devices such as an iPad with the Dwolla or Square app installed along with any in-house app designed to manage the meal-plan users.

This is just the beginning to make our smartphone experience really well-deserved amongst an environment where the greatest activity is taking place. Both students and the university can take advantage of having technology that is capable of satisfying those with a smartphone, which is most likely everyone.

Since there is so much potential in a smartphone to make life much more streamlined and useful, I’d like to see a science and technology institution have a smartphone technology-savvy campus. Certainly our dining centers aren’t the only area for the changes that need to made, but it’s a start. Up next are property management companies and local businesses.

Together, I’d like to see an intelligent environment in Ames and believe it all starts on our beautiful campus. The benefits and costs are there. What is left out are the clunky, old-fashioned ways of doing things such as having to use our university ID.

When most of us have a smartphone, we need our environment to be compatible with the opportunities of the technology inside. Iowa State and Ames can have that environment.