Computer science majors Hannah Bearup ’16 and Adam Ouellette ’15 created software for this “Destination Meter,” below, which helps a local company learn more about the cultural venues people visit.
Software Students Track Tourism
Two computer science students who aim for careers in software development are helping Lever, Inc. – a non-profit organization that encourages social innovation and economic development in northern Berkshire County and southern Vermont – to understand how visitors move between cultural locations in the region.
As “Destination Metrics” interns this past summer, Hannah Bearup ’16 of Albany, N.Y. (middle right), and Adam Ouellette ’15 of Adams, Mass. (bottom right), created software and analyzed data to learn more about where people go.
To accomplish this, Bearup and Ouellette placed small computers – Destination Meters – in key locations – on Main Street and at MASS MoCA in North Adams, and on Spring Street in Williamstown – that recognize and count the number of smart phones that pass by. Eventually, a fourth Destination Meter may be added to the MCLA campus.
According to Ouellette, “It is important to look at traffic patterns between Main Street, MASS MoCA and campus.” This information, he explained, is graphed so that Lever’s customers may see which events attract the most people, and what’s less popular.
Bearup explained that the company’s clients may not have access to this knowledge through revenues or sales data.
“For example, MASS MoCA knows exactly how many tickets it sells each day, but they don’t know how many of their visitors patronize businesses in downtown North Adams.
“We have the capability to look at traffic between MASS MoCA and downtown, and we can look at specific days or time frames to see if and when the Museum’s visitors are venturing onto Main Street," Bearup said.
“We can also look at general patterns in traffic; what days of the week bring more people onto Spring Street, or what events show spikes in traffic. There are a lot of possibilities for this technology, and every time we speak to someone, they give us a lot of suggestions that we never even thought about,” Bearup added.
If a Destination Meter is placed on the MCLA campus, Bearup and Ouellette believe the best place might be in the Campus Center.
“It’s in a central location on campus, and lots of students pass through to get to class, have a meal, or go back to their dorms,” Bearup said.
Serving this internship enhanced Ouellette’s educational experience. “I used almost everything that I have learned thus far about software development when creating the Destination Meter software,” he said.
Bearup added, “I learned a lot about programming languages from using them in a practical, real-world setting, as opposed to a classroom setting. Lever also required its interns to do a lot of work on their own, including reaching out to people to make meetings, setting times, and writing agendas, so I’ve learned a lot about taking initiative and starting things on my own.
“Lever gave me a lot of opportunities to speak to different people about my project, and give a number of presentations throughout the summer,” she continued. “It was a great opportunity to not only become a better developer, but a better employee, as well.”