Help Salt Lake City ‘Turn the Tide’

By Laura Schmidt, Sustainability Resource Center

Interested in Salt Lake City’s air quality? Do you walk, bike, or use public transit? Do you want to start? There’s an app for that.

Andriod Symbol. Courtesy of: Vineet957 (

Andriod Symbol. Courtesy of:

“Turn the Tide” is an android application created by four computer science students at the U for their senior project. They are currently looking for beta testers.

Screenshot of the "Turn the Tide" App

Screenshot of the “Turn the Tide” App

Kerry Kelly, Associate Director for the Program for Air Quality, Health, and Society, brought the project idea to the “Senior Capstone” class. Four students, Fenton Whetstone, Austin Truong, Alan Wang, and Yue Wang, took on the challenge by developing the program and creating the app.

Turn the Tide allows users to keep track of the miles they travel by walking, biking, riding the bus, and riding TRAX, Whetstone says. The app calculates trips taken, and the energy, emissions, and money saved by using alternative or active transportation. The user is awarded “karma points” and animal badges when they reach different levels.

The app is designed to “encourage commuters to embrace mass transit and clean transportation,” Truong says.

Animal badge: Jackrabbit. Tracked: Miles traveled, trips taken, and emissions & money saved.

Animal badge: Jackrabbit. Tracked: Miles traveled, trips taken, and emissions & money saved.

All the badges are based on animals from the Rocky Mountain region. Earn a jackrabbit, elk, moose, or a mountain lion depending on your level of dedication to turning the tide. Users receive more points as they travel more miles through walking, biking, or utilizing public transit. There is also a button to see the current air quality, via Additionally, the app corresponds to a website that creates graphs and highlights information gathered by the GPS tracker on the user’s phone.

“Having people outside of my team using the application on a daily basis will help us find bugs and improvements that would possibly be overlooked without them,” says Whetstone.

If you would like to participate in testing the app, sign up here.

Laura Schmidt is a graduate student in Environmental Humanities. She is a graduate assistant in the Office of Sustainability.

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