“CityU always supports students and teachers to try on new things,” said Dr. Jessica Li, the Associate Director (Social Innovation) of CityU Apps Lab (CAL) and Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Social Sciences. In line with her research interests in situational crime prevention, Dr. Li initiated an 18-month project ‘Crime Prevention Discovery Channel’ in 2015.
Financially funded by our University’s Office of EDGE and technically assisted by CAL, the Crime Prevention Campaign started well with active participation of over a hundred of students. “I want our students to have both inter-disciplinary collaboration within CityU and outside CityU with the Crime Prevention Unit of the Hong Kong Police Force. It is exciting to see how students explore through this learning journey in the campaign, which results in widened learning horizon,” added Dr. Li. Last semester, students from Social Sciences formed teams with Engineering and Creative Media students and worked on designing mobile apps that help promote crime prevention message under themes like anti-theft, anti-stalking, and anti-telephone deception.
“When I knew that we were required to create an app, I was surprised but at the same time worried about our project. Even though we have a great idea for the app, we are not able to turn it into a real product,” said Cindy Hui, a Year 2 Criminology student who had no related experience in designing and programming. “I have never worked with Engineering students in my university life, it seems that social sciences and engineering are two parallel lines that would never intercept.” By the day her group showcased their product, she kept expressing her thankfulness to those engineering and design students, who worked for CAL, for their generous help in UI design jobs and programming work.
Dr. Li hoped to move forward from the stage of knowledge discovery to knowledge transfer in the coming 6 months. Students are encouraged to make concrete plan for their ideas and release them to the public. “There are 2 teams (luggage stealing and telephone deception) planning to apply for funding to launch their apps in the market so that the society can benefit from their ideas and products,” added Dr. Li. “Out of all the proposed apps, I personally find the idea of identifying fake money with mobile phone quite ingenious but at the same time retaining its feasibility. Nowadays, everyone brings along a phone, so why don’t we make more out of the phones?”
As the 2nd runner up of the Crime Prevention Contest, Charling Wong, another Year 2 Criminology student, shared the idea of her group. “Our app is dedicated to solve the luggage stealing issue at airport and our target user groups are tourists, business travellers and Hong Kong citizens. We wish to increase public awareness about this problem by reminding them not to lose sight of their luggage when using phone as this would provide a chance for criminals to convict thefts. We hope that our app can be available to the public with the support from CAL,” said Wong. “CAL members are capable of realizing our brilliant ideas. I can’t wait to use our own app!”
Channeling messages to the public via mobile apps has become a trend along with the increasing accessibility of mobile devices. Dr. Li pointed out that CityU might keep on encouraging colleagues from different faculties to adopt creative teaching methods collaboratively so that students can be promised with more crossovers to work inter-discipline in the future. She found CAL is an excellent platform for faculties and students across disciplines to work on their teaching or research projects in an innovative way.
▲ The students were showing the app demo to the panel and guests.
▲ (Left) Champion app demo of the forum; and (right) part of the forum organising committee.