Geolocation Service Expanded to UC Berkeley

Photo: Fountainhop, a geolocation service created last year by Stanford graduates, has come to UC Berkeley. Students using it will be able to find nearby friends and events on campus.
Evan Walbridge/Staff
Fountainhop, a geolocation service created last year by Stanford graduates, has come to UC Berkeley. Students using it will be able to find nearby friends and events on campus.

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Fountainhop, an ASUC-sponsored geolocation service launched last month, is amid plans to expand service on the UC Berkeley campus by increasing partnerships with student groups.

The project, created by four Stanford University graduates, is a social application for college students that operates through an iPhone application and a website, which mark event locations on campus. While the application has been active on Stanford's campus since last year, it was launched at UC Berkeley, Cornell University, Princeton University, Harvard University and UCLA within the last few months.

Zavain Dar, a co-founder of Fountainhop, said he and the other co-founders developed the idea to keep tabs on what events their friends were attending.

"The four of us just graduated from Stanford, and we realized there was no easy way for us to see what our other friends were doing on campus," he said.

Geolocation services have grown increasingly popular within the past year with applications like Foursquare and Facebook Places, drawing both acclaim and controversy. Dar said Fountainhop wanted to differentiate from other geolocation services by focusing on privacy while still sharing information.

"We value privacy a lot," he said. "Your profile is locked to your Berkeley e-mail address. The only people you can see are your friends in Berkeley, and not just anyone can see where you are. At the same time, any student or student organization can create an event visible to the entire campus."

Dar added that student governments could use the service to broadcast important events and that student groups could organize and advertise meetings.

According to Dar, while only 30 percent of students may have a smart phone, over 95 percent of students have ready access to the Internet, allowing users to capture a much larger audience.

Connie Yang, a Fountainhop intern and sophomore at UC Berkeley, said the main focus of the campus launch is outreach to different student groups. With the large number of fliers and advertisements that students see on Upper Sproul Plaza, she said she felt Fountainhop would prove useful for both student groups and individual students.

"There's so many events and diverse groups on campus, sometimes it's difficult to advertise to students and sometimes it's difficult for students to get information," she said. "With Fountainhop, the social aspect and ability to stay connected will help groups aggregate events and get heard."

Fountainhop plans to partner with various student groups on campus, providing analytics to the groups while publicizing the application. Dar said the ASUC sponsorship has been very helpful in spreading the word about Fountainhop on campus.

"We're working with (ASUC President) Noah Stern on a pretty regular basis," Dar said. "We tabled at Caltopia and Calapalooza, and we're ramping up for another big push to spread more publicity as well."

Dar said that while publicizing and marketing the application was important, the ultimate goal was to develop something that would be useful to students in as many ways as possible.

"What Facebook did for college students in the realm of social networking, we want Fountainhop to do for geolocation," he said.


James Zhao covers academics and administration. Contact him at [email protected]

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