Accessibility is a widely discussed topic and there are a growing number of efforts to sensitise European cities and municipalities to the topic. A focus of such efforts is the facilitation of easy access to public places for everyone, including those with walking disabilities, balance and visual disorders, as well as people requiring the use of walking aids, and parents with pushchairs. To date, finding suitable ways through the city is challenging for people whose walking ability is permanently or temporarily limited. This problem affects millions of people in Europe. As the citizens and visitors of Heidelberg also belong to this growing group of people, the City of Heidelberg, HeiGIT/ GIScience Research Group and MatchriderGO are currently working on a project to increase mobility for people whose walking ability is permanently or temporarily limited.
For people with limited walking ability it is (among other things) important to know about streets with sidewalks that are of a certain width, the presence of small inclines, and whether the surface is of a suitable material. To enable crossing at road junctions, dropped kerb information should also be available. The current project “Routing for Accessibility” will enable people with limited mobility to better plan their route through the city using their smartphones and thereby enable them increasing social participation despite their physical constraints. Therefore, the already existing digital services of the city of Heidelberg will be extended by an additional application.
The smartphone app will facilitate routing between a defined start and end point, the exceptional innovation being that values defined by the users will be taken into account as well, e.g., regarding maximum inclines, sidewalk width and kerb heights. The project will focus on the city center, including 40 kilometers of roads. The focus area includes the world famous old town that is visited by 12 million tourists per year as well as the central railway station.
The project will build on work and insights of the EU funded CAP4Access project of the University of Heidelberg and other European partners.
Related events and prototypes of the app will be shared shortly!
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