CityU Walk, a long-term campaign which aims to promote a healthy lifestyle in campus through walking, was initiated by Dr. Ron Kwok, the Associate Director (Business Innovation) of CityU Apps Lab (CAL) and Associate Professor in the Department of Information Systems. To highlight the event, the Student Development Services launched CityU Walk Contest 2015 as a part of the Wellness March programme this year. A mobile application ‘CityU Walk’ developed by CAL and Dr. Kwok’s research team was used as a pedometer to record the total cumulative footsteps of each individual participant throughout the whole contest period.
Results were announced as soon as the contest ended in April, all first, second and third places of individual walkers were taken by students. “It’s not that difficult to achieve 30,000 steps per day,” said Khan, a Year 1 Engineering student at CCCU and the Top Individual Walker with an impressive record of 1.17 million steps in a month. “I accumulate the steps when I go jogging in the morning and choose to walk to destinations that are one or two MTR stations away.” As for the department and office group, first prize went to the Department of Information System, one of the organizers in this healthy university project, with the record of 3.45 million steps in a month. Student Development Service and Campus Development & Facilities Office were awarded with the 1st and 2nd runner-up respectively.
“According to the statistics, the accumulated steps of all users almost hit a hundred million, which is a great leap from several millions few months ago. But it is still far away from my expectation as I hope that everyone has installed CityU Walk app in his/her phone so as to devote their share of effort,” evaluated Dr. Kwok. “As a young university, CityU should pick up the leading role to promote work-life balance in this fast-paced society. Walking is an everyday workout, so why don’t we start a low entry barrier campaign?”
After being inspired, Dr. Kwok started working with CAL to create CityU Walk which enables users to quantify their walks, evaluate themselves and compare with others by individual or by group. These functionalities help make walking a collective activity and encourage users to walk more. “This surely brings both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation; meanwhile, the app also helps enhance their sense of belonging and attachment to CityU. Maybe CityU Walk is the first app in the world that enables people to walk together in a group with proper incentives… Who knows?” said Dr. Kwok humbly. Although the contest is over, CityU students, staff, alumni and friends are cordially invited to join the walking campaign and they can choose to walk individually and for a particular unit they belonged to. All of them are given a daily target, which is to achieve 10,000 steps a day.
“We faced a lot of challenges getting the campaign onto the right track, especially in the technical part. After we hit the shelf in Android market, we were stuck when trying to proceed to iOS version. Luckily, a team of potential students from CAL helped to solve the problem. It’s them who made both versions available right before the contest,” memorized Dr. Kwok. “We did a lot of research on the detection and tracking of human-movement-like motions so as to enhance its accuracy. On the other hand, we also put a lot of effort in reducing the battery consumption of the app. During the post development stages, numerous experiments were carried out to ensure that the app fits all popular mobile phone models and systems. Undoubtedly, ensuring high compatibility is a tremendous challenge to us because even the global phone suppliers or major app developers do not always consider the synchronization of all phone types as well as the compatibility across different brands, versions, platforms, and phone models.”
In the future, Dr. Kwok, being a CityU alumnus, hopes to reach out to the staff association and alumni so that people can keep their work-life balance when climbing their career ladders. “The campaign has achieved a partial, but the journey still counts on. We wish people enjoy their journey with the accompaniment of our app,” concluded Dr. Kwok.
[Extended Reading] 一個步行的故事 (Source: Sports Road)
「伯伯吿訴我，他常常到城市大學應用程式實驗室(CityU Apps Lab) ，學習基本電腦語言，和設計簡單的手機程式。這令他接觸到城大健步行(CityU Walk)，這是一個計步手機程式，輸入身高，體重等資料，能計算因步行而燃燒的卡路里，更令他愛上步行‥‥‥」