Smithtown Schools Could Soon Have an iPhone Application

The company developing the application says it could be ready for use by the upcoming school year.

An iPhone application specific to the Smithtown Central School District dedicated to providing current information to students, parents and locals was introduced at Tuesday's Board of Education meeting.

Digital Natives, the company behind making the application possible, features three graduates of the district.

Chef Marketing Officer of Digital Naives Jonathan Jacobs, a 2007 High School East graduate, presented the application – named "Whisper" – and its functionality, stating it would provide safety, simplicity and publicity to its users who aren't in front of a computer but have their iPhone with them.

"There are districts that have similar applications but there's nobody who's done it properly and there's nobody who's created an application like we have that follows the best privacy standards of design and functionalities," he said after the meeting.

Jacobs said that what separates this phone application from the applications from other districts is that it will provide current information, not static information.

During Jacobs' presentation, he announced that the application would feature things such as emergency alerts and one-tap emergency contacts while also providing news and information, directions and district contact information, a calendar of events and more.

The application would be iPhone specific. Jacobs said during the presentation that one-third of high school students are currently using iPhones.

Being a Smithtown graduate, Jacobs said after the meeting that the opportunity to give back to the district was exciting. 

"We owe so much of what we're able to do being able to start and the experiences that we had [to the district]," he said. "We are a team of four and two of us are High School East graduates and one's a High School West graduate, so it's really exciting to come back and be a part of everything going on here."

Superintendent Edward Ehmann said after the meeting that he's proud to see students help the school district they came from and help bring the district further into the digital age.

"It's great to see graduates come back and contribute to the technological evolution of the district," he said. "I think parents are going to appreciate having that increased level of communication. We're very excited and hope it works out."

Jacobs said he hopes to have it complete and ready by August for use in the upcoming school year.

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Andrea June 13, 2012 at 11:10 AM
This should not be introduced if it only applies to 1/3 of the students. That leaves 2/3 out!
Jonathan Jacobs June 13, 2012 at 12:03 PM
Andrea- to clarify, that is a national statistic that is true across all HS students in America, and we believe that number is even higher in this district. Additional plans exist to make this application mobile web friendly after the initial iOS version has been piloted and tested.
Cindy Zeis June 13, 2012 at 12:13 PM
I'm wondering why you're not developing this app cross platform to include parents/students who use Android, HTML5 driven devices. Has the appropriate research been performed to gain an understanding of the percentage of reach you anticipate by going iPhone only. Hopefully you're at least optimizing for iPad as well. As a developer I always develop cross platform and also include a mobilized redirect for your existing web presence. Just an idea...
A Concerned Resident June 13, 2012 at 01:11 PM
I think this is WONDERFUL of these 'kids' to offer this to the District. Once it is up and running, I am sure it will include additional platforms (especially the iPad as more and more students are being issued them by the District). Thank you Digital Natives, and good luck in your future endeavors!
One Opinion June 13, 2012 at 04:42 PM
As I understood, this service is being paid for by the school district. They have contracted with a new company that facilitates the connect-ed calls. The new company contract cost less than the old contract and the savings are being used to pay for this iphone app. Although it sounds nice, when we just layed off 29 teachers maybe we should use the savings for real education purposes and not just bells and whistles.
George June 13, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Based on the information provided in this article I must agree with "One Opinion". And yes, what if I choose not own an IPhone?
scsddad June 13, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Although I think it is nice that young people want to give back to the community they came from there are a lot better ways. We should be using any savings we get for EDUCATIONAL SERVICES TO CHILDREN. We have slashed programs and cut programs like reading labs in HS, Business Courses, Music Programs. Enough is enough. BTW the IPads the district gave out were for special education students mostly to help them facilitate language and help them learn using alternative technology. This will further divide our community between the haves and the have not. The kids shouldn't even have there phones on in school so this is for those parents who can afford an I-phone. I thought we were supposed to be educating children with our tax dollars.
Ben Guttmann June 13, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Hi everyone! I'm Jon's partner at Digital Natives. We're excited about this project, and can't wait to get it off the ground in the coming weeks and months. To address a common concern, we have plans to develop and release a mobile web version of the app as soon as the iOS version is completed. This version will work on nearly all phones and tablets, including Android, Blackberry, and Windows. We're aiming to be as accessible and platform-agnostic as possible. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this project, feel free to email me at ben@nativesgroup.com. We're looking forward to a great app!
Sticks60 June 13, 2012 at 09:18 PM
It is about time the schools move into the 21st century, even if it is just a moble app. Someday maybe we will be able to get our teaching program updated to the 21st century as well. I have a great idea with the average salary approching $96,500 for next year maybe the STA members might want to donate a little something to help the communcations issue.
Bob June 14, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Wow Mr. Foster, oops, sorry, Sticks60. So does EVERY single thing that's ever written on the Patch HAVE to go back to the STA and teachers' salaries? You're ridiculous. Please tell me how much money you VOLUNTARILY donated/contributed/gave back to your company last year.
Sticks60 June 16, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Hi Bob, The answer to your question is 100% of my company's funding comes from me. I work under the classification of indepentent contractor. Every month I receive checks, like many of my freinds in the industry do, based on the sales made in privious months. Every dollar that goes into my business from my phone to transportation comes out of these funds. If I don't make the investment companies could void my contract with a 30 day notice. What is left over is what you would consider to be my salary, less income and SSI taxes of course.


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