Community Love: Georgia Tech students’ app design for the Atlanta BeltLine

While preparing for the fall 2012 semester, Dr. Rosa Arriaga started assembling her syllabus for a new crop of students. As a professor of user interface design for undergrad students at Georgia Tech, Dr. Arriaga seeks real-world projects that introduce students to human-centered computing. The Atlanta BeltLine piqued her interest. What opportunities does the Atlanta BeltLine offer for human-computer interaction? What data can be learned or what tasks accomplished through technology? How would that technology be accessible and not daunting for all users of the Atlanta BeltLine?

When Dr. Arriaga reached out to us came into our offices, we brainstormed these questions and settled on two main themes:

  • Community engagement and safety
  • Community engagement and Art on the Atlanta BeltLine

Students kicked off the semester with an intro to design principles and the idea of creating for the user before the technology. Dr. Arriaga divided the students up into teams and invited staff from the Atlanta BeltLine to come into the classroom and speak about the project. Walking tours got students out on the trail itself to get a full understanding of the opportunities and limitations offered by such a vast project that is ever-evolving.

Georgia Tech user interface class
Georgia Tech students work in teams to develop ways to disseminate information about art and safety along the Atlanta BeltLine.

As the class cultivated their concepts for conveying art and safety along the Atlanta BeltLine, they evaluated different methods of relaying information. Almost every team came up with three consistent prototypes: a website, a smart phone app, or an on-trail kiosk. Their assignment included surveying potential Atlanta BeltLine users (their fellow students), evaluating all of the pros and cons of each approach, and presenting their research in a board presentation.

Staff from the Atlanta BeltLine attended the board presentations in October, listened to each group’s pitch, and gave feedback on feasibility and factual info. What an inspiring experience to  see a whole class of some of the country’s brightest minds interpreting the Atlanta BeltLine and bringing new ideas to the table!

Georgia Tech user interface class
One of the proposals included a running and safety app where one could check in and track their miles using a wrist band.

Below, you can see each group’s presentation board:

GA Tech interface design class - Michelangelos
This art app (above) documents art locations and encourages participation from the community. Designed by “The Michelangelos.”


GA Tech interface design class - Team LineTrackers
Team LineTrackers designed a health and safety app that includes using a wristband to encourage and track exercise.


GA Tech interface design class - art app
This mobile app enables users to find Art on the Atlanta BeltLine. Designed by Greg Ruskin, Ishwarya Venkatachalam, and Chris Moore.


GA Tech interface design class - IllumiNation
The IllumiNation app devises a system of lighting and tracking usage along the trail. Designed by Brad VanSlyke, Brittany Wood, Emil Hessel, and Frederick Damen.


GA Tech interface design class - BeltLine Scout
BeltLine Scout is an app aimed at promoting safety on the trail and is designed by Ivory Assan, Tim Hui, and Syneva Runyan (Team TrailBlazers).


GA Tech interface design class - Team Rocket
This app provides wayfinding maps, routes, upcoming events, and more. Designed by Kristina Flaherty, Dale Kim, Justin Tang, and Chayna Johnson (Team Rocket).


GA Tech interface design class - art treasure hunt
“Where Art Thou?” is an Art on the Atlanta BeltLine “treasure hunt” designed by Atom Raiff, Kellie Christian, Sujin Koo, Saad Ismailm (Team ATLLTA).


GA Tech interface design class - Next Top Artist
The “Next Top Artist” app allows artists to submit to Art on the Atlanta BeltLine and for the community to vote on their favorites to exhibit for that year. Designed by Lucy Johnson, Andrew Darrohn, Marius Chawa, and Chandler Hill (team art).


GA Tech interface design class - Artwatch
The Artwatch app invites users to explore art by genre with a social media component.


GA Tech interface design class - Team Transmission
This app shares safety information from trail users with authorities. Designed by Margeaux Comerford, Gabe Ochoa, Daryl Halima, and David Jackson (Team Transmission).


GA Tech interface design class - vBeltLine
vBeltLine is an app centered around Art on the Atlanta BeltLine and users submitting their own expressive pieces. Designed by Jiwon Han, Kevin Zhou, Robert Thackston, and Matt Cooper.


GA Tech interface design class - Below the BeltLine
“Below the BeltLine” is an app to crowd source safety information by Maria Poulos, Sameer Yadav, Szu Ting Chen, and William Smart.


This blog series, titled Community Love, is all about how people have incorporated the Atlanta BeltLine into their every day lives, whether it’s through their classroom, their daily commute, or supporting the project through educational outreach. Read our other Community Love stories here and please share with us any amazing stories you know of where individuals or groups are embracing the Atlanta BeltLine!

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