Student team launches new Branda app

December 7, 2018

This week marked the launch of the new app Branda, designed and managed by a team of students to make campus life easier.

The app has eight features: Brandeis news, hours, calendar, shuttle tracker, laundry tracker, work order requests, a Brandeis map and a tech support contact page.

The app opens onto the news page, with a thread of BrandeisNOW articles.

Under the hours tab, students can check the operating hours of dining locations across campus. The hours of the Gosman gym and the library are also listed.

The calendar portion groups events by category: food, career, art, athletic and academic. Students can click on a category and see all the events that match. Students can also click on any day in the calendar and scroll through all the events listed for that day.

Through the shuttle tracker, students can track the campus, Waltham and Boston BranVans or check their operating hours. A map shows a little bus icon that tracks the vans. There is a tab to reserve a BranVan but, as of press time, it says that this feature is coming soon.

Students can now submit virtual work orders to Facilities Services for things that are broken around campus. Students can take a picture through Branda and then describe the problem. If a student’s location services are on, the app will also detect which building you’re in. The work order will be sent to Facilities.

Google Maps is equipped in Branda, with a search function for Brandeis buildings. If a student is trying to find an academic building or residence hall, they can start typing in the name, and the app will autofill the rest and then drop a pin on the map.

With the new laundry feature, students can track washers and dryers in their residence hall. Once you select a building, the app shows which washers and dryers are open, and if a machine is in use, which cycle it is on.

The final “Contact Us” tab allows users to give feedback to four services: Branda tech support, the mailroom, Academic Services and the library.

At the bottom of the menu is a Campus Emergency button, which will call the campus emergency number, 781-736-3333.

The app is one of the 2018-19 Community Enhancement and Emergency Fund (CEEF) projects. CEEF, managed by the Student Union, puts $100,000 towards student projects and $150,000 for on-campus emergency funding. According to their website, the requirements for projects to receive a CEEF grant are “to have campus wide benefit” and have “long term effect on the campus and/or the student body.”

Benjamin Segal ’20 came up with the idea for Branda last year. “After finding many challenges at Brandeis and hearing many complaints, we decided to take action and be proactive,” said Segal in an email to The Brandeis Hoot. “We thought about how we can impact the school the most and realized that a solution such as a phone app will solve the issues.”

Segal said that he and the student team sent out a survey over the summer to find the most prevalent and pressing issues for students on campus. They identified three things that would be the most useful for students: a calendar with all school and club events, laundry tracker and BranVan shuttle tracker.

“This is information that we rely on on a day-to-day basis and are getting from disparate, unreliable sources,” Segal said. “We think it [Branda] will be successful precisely because everyone at the school needs this information and finally has it at their fingertips.”

Looking ahead, the student Branda team plans to continue implementing their own ideas and release future improvements based on student feedback, Segal said.

Segal also noted the team’s appreciation for the help from CEEF and professors Jordan Pollack (COSI) and Antonella DiLillo (COSI).

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