Mobile Computing | News

Penn State Researchers Launch Android App for Community Engagement

Researchers at Penn State's College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) have created a smartphone app that combines news coverage with social content in an effort to increase community engagement.

Local News Chatter, as the app has been dubbed "extracts a set of popular tags from articles published in news outlets in the State College, Pa. area — Centre Daily Times, Daily Collegian, and Penn State News — and utilizes them to find associated tweets from Twitter," according to a news release. "The app displays those tags in a tag cloud and presents both formal news articles and tweets in an integrated manner. The researchers are interested in understanding how users perceive aggregated community information while using the app and if the app helps them be more aware of local community news and activities."

The app uses an algorithm to find the most common keywords from a story, then finds tweets with the same words to link to the article.

"I think that what's clever about (Local News Chatter) is that the content it needs is already there," said Jack Carroll, distinguished professor of IST who directs the Center for Human Computer Interaction (HCI) at Penn State. "It really integrates stakeholders in a news story in a way that doesn't normally occur."

Local News Chatter is currently available at the Google Play store and may be expanded to other communities if it is well received.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at

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