Vietnam students create free crowdsourcing app for street travel

TripHero, a free app that allows users to access information about their route within a 2km radius, was designed by a group of three students from Ho Chi Minh City in the hope of helping public transport users

A TripHero map featuring information about the traffic situation around Con Rua (Turtle) Lake in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1 is seen on a smartphone screen.

A group of three students from Ho Chi Minh City have created a free app to ensure safety for people traveling on streets. 

Named TripHero, the app was originally designed by Huynh Phuong Duy and Le Van Tai from the Information Technology Department of the University of Science under the Vietnam National University – Ho Chi Minh City. They later received support from a student at another university to perfect the app.

Duy and Tai used the program for their graduation project on building an information gathering and processing system via crowdsourcing on mobile platforms.    

The project received the maximum score of 10 and was ranked as excellent.

How it works

Built for both Android and iOS, TripHero has been downloaded numerous times since it was added to Google Play and Apple’s App Store thanks to its useful features.

When TripHero is downloaded and opened, a map featuring information about a user’s trip, including traffic jams, accidents, theft hot spots, tricky gas stations, and more within a 2km area will appear. The information is submitted real-time by other users.

The main idea of the project is to use crowdsourcing, a process of gathering information from users, to collect data on traffic and encrypt the data through algorithms.

TripHero also gathers information on the hobbies and trips its users take regularly to send related, useful information to them.

Support tool for bus riders

TripHero can be used by people in any kind of vehicle, but it was initially conceived as a tool to serve public transportation.

The app’s creators said they came up with the idea of building a piece of software which can help bus users update routes and schedules because they understand how hard it is to be late for a bus, or to wait for a bus in the heat, as they usually use public transport.

“In big cities around the world, motorbikes are not allowed in downtown areas, and that’s a trend that Ho Chi Minh City will follow when the under-construction subway and other public transport systems are complete,” Huynh Phuong Duy, one of TripHero’s founders, said.

“When that time comes, demand for information on public transportation services will be very high, and TripHero will help travelers find buses they need, stops and schedules, as well as obstacles on their route,” he added.

“People coming from other provinces will also be able to find their appropriate buses and schedules.”

Ho Chi Minh City University of Transport student Do Ngoc Lan Vi, a regular bus user, said TripHero is useful since it gives her information on traffic jams, accidents, construction zones, and flooded streets.

“TripHero can also inform a user of danger on a given street in real-time, as well as allow users to call for help from its community,” she added.

Development

In August, Duy and Tai brought the app to the 2014 Hackathon Vietnam technology competition.

Though they did not win an award, the contest gave them a chance to gather advice from technology experts, and to meet Ho Chi Minh City University of Foreign Languages and Information Technology student Nguyen Thanh An, who became the third partner and helped complete TripHero.

The trio worked together to develop the program, save battery life, and make it easier to use.

The group also convinced an Australian company to give them an online internship, as well as a US$1,000 sponsorship to launch the app.

They have listened to traffic radio stations, talked to bus drivers and visited the city’s Department of Transport to ask for information needed to build the database for TripHero.

The group also received help from friends to design an eye-catching interface for the app.

Duy and Tai also asked their school’s instructors to introduce the app to students, as well as to hold a contest named “Fun with Bus” to encourage them to use TripHero.

“TripHero is a highly practical app,” Le Ngoc Thanh, a computer science instructor at the University of Science, said.

The instructor said graduation projects for full-time students only require them to re-work available apps, while “these students have created an applicable project which nobody has made before.”

“It goes beyond our expectations,” he added. “I hope it becomes more popular and is used widely.”

According to TripHero’s creators, their biggest challenge is that the database remains limited since the number of users is small, and information is mainly focused on the two biggest cities – Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

In the future, the group will expand the number of users in other cities and provinces.

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