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iQueue – Smart Ticket Management System with SMS Authentication

Although SMS communication is in most cases a business-only solution, there are some notable exceptions. One of them is the iQueue project. Created by a group of Portuguese students, the iQueue app is a smart answer to ticket collecting. As expected from an eco- and mobile-friendly solution, it uses an SMS authentication. But there’s more to it than that!

When one of our consultants first saw the new SMSAPI account created by a group of students, she has decided to investigate it further. The group had an interesting idea – they wanted to create a simple app, one that solves a real problem. After the successful presentation and reception, we have decided to interview the team and ask all about their ambitious project.

Hi, could you introduce yourself and other team members?

João Marques

My name is João Marques. Together with Bruno Freitas, Luís Duarte, and Ulisses Araújo we are Integrated Masters in Informatics Engineering students of the University of Minho located in Braga, Portugal. We came together to execute the Informatics Laboratory IV project. 

What exactly the iQueue app is?

iQueue is a fast, lightweight smart online ticketing management app for both businesses and clients. The name stands for “Intelligent Queue”.

And what problems does it solve?

The need to be physically present to retrieve tickets for services (theatre, cinema, concerts, transportation, etc.). The app makes the process of ticket collecting simpler.

With the help of data science, we can predict the best time to retrieve single or multiple tickets determined by location, time to travel, travel mode, waiting time, service time, and order of services to attend (if there are multiple tickets to retrieve).

Therefore, iQueue improves the rentability of services, as well as saves the clients’ precious time. To sum up:
– clients will be satisfied that they now can better manage their daily time;
– employees will assist happier customers, who will then provide better service (social engineering);
– managers will be happy that clients are satisfied with the service provided and have all the data for further improvements when necessary.

An interesting idea! How long did you develop it?

We’ve developed it in 21 weeks. However, if we take into consideration the time genuinely dedicated to it, we will say around eight weeks. We are students, and so we have other projects and exams.

Understood. What was the most challenging part of the project?

Working with frameworks (Xamarin) and different programming languages (C#, PHP) that we didn’t use before. The architecture of the project was challenging, but to a degree, we are accustomed to. We were also not used to utilize cloud infrastructure or services (Azure), as well as doing web app from the ground up.

We choose Xamarin because of its cross-platform UI (Android, Apple, etc.), but it was the most difficult part. Front-end was and still is our Achilles heel because so far, we were taught much more about back-end and algorithm structures than UI design and architecture.

How was iQueue received? Are you happy with the results?

It was received with a lot of enthusiasm and praise. We were amazed by this, and it gave us a lot of motivation throughout the development and deployment. We are very proud of our achievement.

If you could change something in the app now that it’s ready, what would it be?

In our final report, we recognized there were better solutions to deploy into the cloud. For example, in case we needed to replicate to manage a big wave of request in a short time. The usage of Kubernetes solves that problem. Things that we weren’t taught but understand now.

The rest of the changes would be around the business type, like premium account and more appealing UI to spread the use of our application.

Why did you choose SMSAPI as an SMS provider?

It is the best SMS provider. Simple. Fast. Friendly. Cheap. Perfect for our MFA application.

What is the role of SMS Authenticator?

To authenticate real people and to prevent bot attacks. It’s the most secure way to identify a person while keeping the minimum of sensitive personal data. An e-mail was not safe enough to prevent security risks. We took the security seriously. Therefore the client can trust our app.

Do you plan to expand the project?

If we see a golden opportunity, we will certainly grab it!