There׳s an app for that: development of a smartphone app to promote active travel to a college campus

Melissa Bopp, Dangaia Sims, Stephen A. Matthews, Liza S. Rovniak, Erika Poole, Joanna Colgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Active travel (AT) is associated with many health benefits, however rates of AT remain low in the USA. Using technology to target population level AT behavior allows for the widespread dissemination of behavior change messages. Limited evidence exists on an effective process for developing and tailoring apps for a specific population. Therefore the purpose of the current study was to document the development process of a smartphone app for promoting AT to a college campus. Methods: Formative research was conducted with students and employees through previous studies and an online survey. The online survey (n=999) was conducted to examine current travel patterns and gain feedback on the possible app features. Descriptive statistics described the sample and trends. The app was developed through a collaborative process with the research team and a software development company with weekly design meetings and frequent beta testing. Results: The surveys revealed that students׳ AT was influenced by time and costs. Employees indicated that time, distance from campus, and health concerns influenced AT. Among both employees and students the most frequently requested app features were: route planning (requested by 37.1% employees, 45.7% students), projected time for commute (30.2%, 45.4%), weather for commute time (32%, 39.2%), information on campus bike parking (18.3%, 14.3%) and motivational messages for AT (10.2%, 14.9%). The app was developed to include these features; app users can plan routes and are prompted with relevant information (estimated travel time, forecasted weather) for each trip. Trips can be logged and individuals are rewarded with information about their accomplishments. A map was developed showing bike racks on campus. Conclusion: The formative research process allowed for a better understanding of the AT behavior for campus members. Feedback from the formative research allowed the developers and research team to build an app addressing the preferences of the community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-314
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Transport and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Transportation
  • Pollution
  • Safety Research
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'There׳s an app for that: development of a smartphone app to promote active travel to a college campus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this