This is Density

This is Density

ADICU released its latest project, Density, on Sunday. Self-proclaimed ADI admirer Max Rettig brings you the story on your new favorite website. 

Application Development Initiative is always finding new, unique ways to solve problems with technology. It’s essentially their raison d’être. The same group of passionate and highly impressive student developers that brought you Courses by ADI now brings you their newest project, Density. And they couldn’t have picked a better time to release it.

According to ADI member and Density project leader Brian Zeng, Density “has been in the works for around two months.” The web-based app provides Columbia students with the estimated number of people on Columbia’s WiFi network in many study spaces on campus, using information provided by CUIT (with help from ESC). The data covers every readily accessible floor of Butler (2-6), Avery (2-3) and Lerner (1-5), as well as Columbia’s dining halls and alternative study spots, such as Roone Auditorium.

Density also updates every 15 minutes, giving students a pretty constant stream of information, so that students can waste as little time as possible in evaluating a space’s availability. However, he admits, “The project is a work in progress—we’re working on figuring out the most accurate way to measure capacity,” also adding, “We’re also working on a service that gives student developers access to the data in the form of an API.” Improvements, Zeng notes, will most likely come within the first month of the spring semester.

With respect to privacy concerns, Brian said that CUIT limits the data ADI can access, only sharing the number of devices on an access point and not the identification of those devices.

In addition, the data is neatly organized into labeled bars, as shown in the picture, making it easy for students to understand the current density in each space. Even easier to comprehend are the percentages inside each bar. Again, though, these are estimates; they don’t account for the number of students not on WiFi, meaning that a space, like Butler 2, could be full but wouldn’t register as such on the app. On the flipside, there could be only 100 people on Butler 2, and if 50 are connected to WiFi, Density’s measurement would still show up as 50%. Given that there likely isn’t an entirely accurate way to measure the density of any given library or study area other than to walk in yourself and look for open space, Density at least gives you an idea before you take off on your mission to find somewhere to study during finals.

As for their next project, ADI is already brainstorming ideas and invites you to suggest one yourself by contacting It’s pretty clear these guys never sleep; they’re too busy improving life at Columbia for everyone else with their technical genius. Zeng states, “We’re also hoping that CUIT decides to give us more Columbia-related data so we can build other cool things for the Columbia community.” Until then, at least for the next soul-testing week, Density provides a welcome solution.