Trial period of controversial DoubleMap nears end

Butler University’s Student Government Association will carefully consider their options in selecting a permanent GPS shuttle-tracking service. The trial period with DoubleMap yielded positive feedback from students­—even though the system’s initial development did not come without controversy.

The trial period, implemented in November, has shown SGA executive board members that students want a service like DoubleMap, Kelsa Reynolds, SGA vice president of operations, said.

A round of surveys at the end of the past semester helped steer SGA’s operations board in the direction of picking up a similar program permanently.

“We got positive feedback from the student body on the shuttles and the GPS link, so it’s going to be a possibility for this upcoming year to see if that’s something that we would want to put in the budget,” Reynolds said.

Rob Miller, assistant director of the PuLSE Office, said the free trial was an opportunity for Butler to see whether the university needed the service before deciding whether to make it a permanent addition to the budget.

Before it got to Butler, DoubleMap faced scrutiny.

According to an article in the Indiana Daily Student of Indiana University, DoubleMap co-officer of operations and development Ilya Rekhter, transportation chief of the Indiana University Student Association at the time, undertook the challenge of developing a shuttle-tracking GPS system from scratch—a cheaper alternative to hiring an outside company.

The initial company, LiveArrive LLC, received funding from IUSA, leading some to suspect a conflict of interest.

On Feb. 18, 2011, IU student Thomas Miller filed a petition saying Rekhter did not disclose that he was simultaneously an executive within IUSA and asking that “the Supreme Court to take whatever steps necessary to pursue further legal action” against Rehkter. Two people signed the petition.

Two days later, Miller withdrew the petition. The request to revoke the permit states that two of the signers “fully recognize[d] the facts were not completely accurate as outlined” in the original petition.

Shortly after, a Congressional Central Committee dismissed all charges, and Rekhter donated all intellectual property to IU. The university still makes use of the DoubleMap system today.

“I didn’t want there to be any bad feelings or misconceptions,” Rekhter said. “Ultimately we got sign-offs from all parties involved.”

After the controversy at IU, Rekhter said he wants to make sure the system has a good impact and has been working closely with Miller and Reynolds throughout the trial period.

Miller and Reynolds, who were not aware of the controversy until Friday, acknowledged that in any business there are going to be disagreements.

“All I can speak on is the interaction that we’ve had with [DoubleMap], and so far they have only been positive,” Miller said. “They keep up on us and make sure that we’re satisfied with what’s going on with them, and they’re always asking for feedback, too, so I can definitely tell that they’re interested in how the process is working.”

Rekhter said he has put his life into DoubleMap and quit his job to focus on it.

“We’ve tried to be really transparent with everything,” he said. “Ultimately our goal is to have people benefit from it.”

Miller said knowing about the controversy before being offered the trial probably wouldn’t have affected the decision to give the system a try, especially because it was free and mutually beneficial for both parties.

“If and when we work with an external company to represent our students and do things for our students, we do a little more stringent background checking,” Miller said. “Because it was a service to us, we just kind of went with it.”

“I think in the future if we were to continue to look for business with these individuals then we would do a little more background checking and see the reputation not only with IU but with everyone. And that would go not only for them not just because of [the controversy] but that would go for anyone that we would consider, all companies.”

Since the implementation of the free trial, Miller said Butler has had other opportunities from other companies offering similar services as a result of the good feedback from students.


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One Comment;

  1. Meditato said:

    I’m an IU informatics student who regularly uses DoubleMap to avoid freezing temperatures.

    This article is very disingenuous. Calling DoubleMap controversial is a bit like calling a criminal defendant a convict after he has been cleared of all charges.

    From what I understand, the original LiveArrive was a capstone project created by Informatics students. It was a completely separate business entity from DoubleMap, utilizing separate software and hardware. LiveArrive no longer exists, and some of the students that formerly worked on the LiveArrive system now work with the DoubleMap system owing to their familiarity with GPS tracking. Bottomline: The LiveArrive system was a proof-of-concept student system funded by IUSA, whereas the DoubleMap system is a separate commercial system.

    The only “controversy” around DoubleMap was generated by journalists such as the one who wrote this article, none of whom seem to understand modern Intellectual Property law, IU policy, or the fact that a few of the same people can legitimately work on several functionally similar projects over the course of several years.

    In the end, DoubleMap is a decidedly noncontroversial company which has the blessing of all parties involved.