The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has awarded Purchase College a $100,000 contract to expand and redesign its online ride-sharing and mobile phone software program Purpool, that is currently exclusive to the College. The NYSERDA award will broaden Purpool’s appeal and offer a linked pilot program at the PepsiCo corporate headquarters in Purchase.
The next Purpool version will include a new design that is suitable for the workplace, with added functionality and significant infrastructure upgrades to make the application more secure and reliable. The expanded and redesigned application could be launched and implemented at any workplace including corporate campuses, hospitals or other colleges.
NYSERDA Vice President for Programs Robert G. Callender noted that “The recent increases in fuel prices and ride-sharing interest makes the program all the more compelling since all the benefits—energy savings, cost savings, emissions reduction—are proportional to the number of motorists riding instead of driving and their distance traveled.”
The application, developed by Purchase College Professors Peter Ohring and Brooke Singer, was designed to address the challenges of getting co-workers to participate in ride-sharing. The program needed to be easy, attractive and safe, and provide participants with immediate benefits. Addressing these challenges has helped potential participants better understand how their individual actions contribute to solving the larger social problems caused by car commuting.
Ohring and Singer designed Purpool with integration and flexibility in mind by using both Internet and mobile phone technologies to connect members. By making the program campus-specific, they built an already existing trust network made up of people who share similar commuting patterns.
In addition to being a source for finding coworkers interested in ride-sharing, Purpool includes “points of interest” posted by co-workers including restaurants, low-priced gas stations, and park and recreation areas.
Dr. Ohring is Associate Professor of Mathematics/Computer Science and New Media. Ms. Singer is Assistant Professor of New Media. Both are on the faculty of the School of Natural and Social Sciences.
Purpool, the prototype application, can be viewed at http://newmedia.purchase.edu/~purpool.