Sunday, October 27, 2013

Interactive app created for Zoo Boise

Zoo App  
Nicole Kent of Kuna pulls up information about the Magellanic Penguin at the penguin exhibit Friday at Zoo Boise. A Zoo Boise app will soon be available for Apple and Android smartphones.

Posted: Saturday, October 26, 2013
BOISE — The Zoo Boise experience is about to go high tech. In a few months, visitors to the menagerie will be able to see, smell and hear the animals like always, but only a finger swipe away will be the newly developed Zoo Boise Mobile App for smartphones on both Apple and Android platforms.

The interactive experience, created by four George Fox University Master of Business Administration students, is designed for convenience and education. The app will be free to download and will likely be available in January, the group said.
Shavonna Case, 39, Ryan Howe, 33, Nicole Kent, 28, and Nick Yates, 35, all of the Boise area, were tasked with a final project for a class. Typically the university approaches nonprofits who might benefit from the MBA students’ help. Then groups choose nonprofits to work with from a pool. But in this case, the group sought out Zoo Boise, simply because the idea for the app was something they wanted to pursue since January.

The group had multiple conversations about what the zoo staff would like to see in an app designed specifically for their animal park. “We did some research, and there’s a couple other zoos that had apps that we looked at to see what they offered,” Kent said.
The app features information provided by Zoo Boise — animal habitat, behavior, size, etc. — on about 90 different fish, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, birds and insects. In addition, it includes zoo maps, hours, schedules, calendars and special events. There is also a “special thanks” section attributed to those who helped the quartet through development and a section spotlighting the zoo’s conservation efforts.
Altogether, it cost the group less than $900 to design, develop and get in the Apple and Android stores. The money was raised through private donations and fundraising. They will give the app to Zoo Boise free of charge upon completion. The four students will present their project to classmates and the director of the MBA program today, but won’t hand the app over to the zoo until probably January.
Because it would have cost “thousands of dollars” to create a custom app, the group used CMS — Content Management System — to cut costs and make it easier for zoo staff. “This is all online,” Kent said. “It’s easier for them to manage and update once we hand it off to them.” All four had at least some background in technology, but pooling their knowledge and resources was necessary to finish the project, Yates said.

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