Poly lecturers create app for faster seating at parade

Republic Polytechnic lecturers (from left) Jason Lim, Magdalene Lim Siok Hoon, Tan Kok Cheng and Shannen Ang Yen Hua took about four months to create the seating management application.

The crowds at this year's National Day Parade (NDP) could get to their seats faster with help from a new seating management application designed by lecturers from Republic Polytechnic's School of Infocomm.

"The ushers at the platform can continually update the app as people filter in, so the ushers at the concourse know which seats are occupied. Then they can direct the crowds accordingly," explained Mr Tan Kok Cheng, programme chair of the Diploma in Mobile Software Development, who led the team of four lecturers to develop the app.

The app, which took about four months to create, has been deployed at weekly rehearsals since July 5, and results have been encouraging, said lecturer Jason Lim, 33, one of the team members.

"We have received positive feedback that the flow has been smoother," he said.

Mr Victor Huang, assistant project manager at non-profit organisation Heartware Network, which provides ushers for the parade, estimates that the seating time for each spectator has been cut by five to 10 minutes.

Traditionally, Heartware has managed crowd flow using pen and paper as well as walkie-talkies, he said.

"This app is useful because the two groups of ushers at the platform and concourse cannot always see each other, so they can check it for updates."

Heartware has been providing volunteer ushers at the NDP for the past 15 years, and will supply about 650 ushers this year, he added.

About 27,000 spectators are expected at this year's parade.

Heartware is also exploring future tie-ups with the polytechnic so the app can be used to direct crowd flow at other mass events.

Undergraduate Goh Chia Hui, 21, an usher at this year's parade, said the app was user-friendly.

"It helps us take note of the exact locations that are filling up quickly, so we can redirect people," she said.


This article was first published on August 4, 2014.
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