The Philadelphia challenge seems to use RA to improve accessibility to public transportation


  • The City of Philadelphia is looking for ideas on ways to use augmented reality (AR) technology to make the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s (SEPTA) public transportation system more accessible to people with disabilities.
  • The city’s smart city arm, SmartCityPHL, stated that the “SEPTA for All: Augmenting Transit with Augmented Reality” challenge seeks proposals that address any segment of a traffic journey, such as travel planning or travel to a destination. Applications must be submitted by August 2nd.
  • The open application process will first collect ideas, then a panel of judges will select up to 12 semifinalists to present their ideas in a virtual event. Up to six teams will advance to the final round and receive small grants to develop working prototypes of their ideas. The winning teams chosen from these six finalists will receive a total of more than $ 35,000 in cash prizes and will pilot their idea with SEPTA and the city.

Dive Insight:

In a blog post explaining the challenge, Joanna Hecht, fellow pilot and SmartCityPHL Pitch, said it is designed to think beyond the standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and make use of emerging technology. RA to improve the traffic experience of people with disabilities. Hecht said the Pokemon Go game app is an example of using RA, but RA can be useful beyond games and could instead be used to help “access, equity and profitability “.

Federal and local governments have made some notable recent efforts to improve accessibility to cities, although many challenges remain. The 2021 All-Station Accessibility Program Act would provide $ 10 billion in federal funding to ensure access to transit and railroad stations. Chicago piloted a tool in 2018 to help cities assess the accessibility of digital and smart services for people with disabilities, helping planners track progress. Meanwhile, other cities are evaluating the shapes of the sidewalks it may be more accessible to people with disabilities.

Disability groups said the challenge is crucial given the role public transport plays in helping people develop their daily lives. “It is critical that public traffic is accessible to users with disabilities,” said Darren Bates, president and CEO of Smart Cities Library, which advocates for accessible and inclusive smart cities, in an email. “Every day, people with disabilities rely on public transportation to carry out daily tasks such as getting to work, school, shopping, medical appointments, recreation and more.”

The challenge also invites people with disabilities to share their experiences with public transportation navigation through an online survey. These results will be shared at a start-up event later this month to help inform ideas. Bates said part of the community’s commitment to the challenge is crucial, given the collective motto of the community with disability rights: “Nothing about us without us.”

According to Bates, RAs and other emerging technologies can certainly help make public traffic more accessible and easy to use for people with disabilities, as long as these technologies are informed, developed and co-created with people with disabilities. .

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