Philadelphia problem appears to make use of AR to enhance transit accessibility

Diving letter:

  • The City of Philadelphia is looking for ideas on how to use Augmented Reality (AR) technology to make their Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) public transportation system more accessible to people with disabilities.
  • According to SmartCityPHL, the city’s Smart City branch, the “SEPTA for All: Augmenting Transit with Augmented Reality” challenge seeks suggestions that address each stage of a transit trip, such as travel planning or traveling to a destination. Applications are possible from August 2nd.
  • In the open application process, ideas are first collected, then a jury selects up to 12 semi-finalists who will present their ideas at a virtual pitch event. Up to six teams will advance to the finals and receive small grants to develop working prototypes of their ideas. The winning teams selected from these six finalists will receive a total of more than $ 35,000 in cash prizes and will test their idea with SEPTA and the city.

Dive Insight:

In a blog post explaining the challenge, SmartCityPHL Pitch and Pilot Fellow Joanna Hecht stated that they should think beyond the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and use emerging AR technology to enhance the transit experience for people with disabilities . Hecht said the Pokemon Go game app is an example of AR in use, but AR can be useful beyond games and used instead to aid “access, equity, and cost-effectiveness.”

Federal and local governments have made some notable efforts recently to improve accessibility in cities, but many challenges remain. Chicago launched a pilot in 2018 to help cities assess access to digital and intelligent services for people with disabilities and help planners track progress. In the meantime, other cities are evaluating paths and sidewalks Can be more accessible to people with disabilities.

Disabled groups said that given the role of public transport for people in their daily lives, the challenge is crucial. “It is critical that public transport is accessible to passengers with disabilities,” said Darren Bates, president and CEO of the Smart Cities Library, which promotes accessible and inclusive smart cities, in an email. “People with disabilities rely on public transport every day to complete daily tasks such as getting to work, going to school, shopping, doctor’s appointments, recreation and more.”

The challenge also invites people with disabilities to share their experience of navigating public transport in an online survey. These results will be shared at a kickoff event later this month to spark ideas. Bates said that the community engagement part of the challenge is crucial given the community’s common motto for disability rights: “Nothing about us without us”.

AR and other emerging technologies can undoubtedly help make public transport more accessible and user-friendly for people with disabilities, as long as these technologies are informed, developed and co-developed with people with disabilities.

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