Wayfinding with Route4U: How 30 seconds and a smart phone can improve accessibility anywhere
In 2017, Route4U won the Smart Dublin SBIR Wayfinding Challenge initiated by Fingal County Council and Dublin City Council, in partnership with Enterprise Ireland. The company secured funding to develop and pilot their innovative, app-based, accessibility solution.
For people with reduced mobility or different mobility needs, getting from A to B is not always straightforward. Legacy planning issues, coupled with a lack of awareness regarding publicly placed obstacles can cause difficulty for many people such as wheelchair users or people with prams.
The Route4U app, though crowd-sourced data collection, helps to reduce one of the barriers to accessibility, unpredictability – not knowing whether a route will be usable. By providing good quality information about footpath obstacles, the app enables the public to report on impediments, and allows people with limited mobility to better plan their journeys, giving them much greater freedom.
Route4U was initially piloted in Swords Main Street, Castle and County Hall by Fingal County Council. Surveys of the area compiled data on footpath obstacles, surface quality, and kerb heights in crossings, and as well as widths and inclines of footpaths. This database is constantly kept up-to-date by volunteers reporting obstacles. Anyone with a smart phone can download the app, report an obstacle and wheelchair users can switch on the “auto-survey” function as they use footpaths, activating their phone sensors to collect data automatically. Volunteers reported over 100 obstacles in just over one month!
Building on the success of the pilot, the Route4U app was launched by Fingal County Council on 4 September 2018 for a nationwide one month campaign ‘MakeWayDay’, in partnership with The Disability Federation of Ireland. The MakeWayDay Campaign engaged thousands of people across the county, encouraging citizens to report on mobility obstacles in their community.
The Route4U app provides great benefits for citizens and local authorities. As well as enabling easy access to information on the walkability and rollability of routes, the app feeds data directly to local councils, helping Roads and Planning Departments to make smarter, evidenced-based decisions.
The Route4U App is free and can be downloaded for both iOS and Android devices.
Route4U has users all over the globe. Its developers are currently working with cities in Hungary, the UK, Ireland and France, and they aim to make accessibility visible and searchable online on a global platform that gets better every day with the active contribution of the community.
The Wayfinding Accessibility project was shortlisted in both the Universal Design and Local Government Award category for the eGovernment Awards 2019.