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Walk this way: New pedestrian-oriented ‘Access Map’ fills a gap in the world of apps

Waze, HERE, Apple Maps, Google Maps. The listing of websites and apps that can assist you navigate the quickest driving route retains rising. In the event you’re hoofing it, nonetheless, you’ve largely been by yourself to determine a secure and speedy pedestrian path.

However now walkers are beginning to catch as much as vehicles in the realm of mapping apps due to the College of Washington’s Taskar Center for Accessible Technology.

The group immediately is releasing a web-based device referred to as Access Map that can enable Seattle pedestrians to enter addresses and generate personalized strolling instructions. Customers can request maps that embrace solely routes with sidewalks with sloped “curb cuts” that enable strollers and wheelchairs to simply go, and that bypass building websites and exclude the steepest streets.

The UW researchers are moreover creating instruments to assist different cities and communities construct their very own maps. They’re additionally engaged on a mission with Seattle Public Colleges to assist households crowdsource and uncover safer routes for teenagers strolling to highschool.

“There are nearly infinite functions that may use this information,” mentioned Anat Caspi, director of the Taskar Heart, which is a component of the UW’s Division of Pc Science and Engineering.

The tailor-made pedestrian routes might be helpful for somebody who makes use of a wheelchair or has issue strolling and requires a flatter route, for supply staff maneuvering heavy hand vans, individuals pushing strollers, curler skaters and cyclists. The Entry Map additionally contains strolling paths by means of parks and inexperienced areas.

The Entry Map crew gained a City of Seattle Hack the Commute competition in 2015 and took part the Data Science for Social Good summer season program final 12 months, which was sponsored by the eScience Institute, City@UW and Microsoft.

State companies and native governments have contacted the UW group searching for data for transit and improvement selections. Town of Kent, situated south of Seattle, was attempting to grasp modifications in the recognition of totally different bus routes and realized that pedestrian entry for individuals attempting to get to and from bus stops was taking part in a position.

Constructing the map wasn’t straightforward. The crew of UW pupil engineers and laptop scientists engaged on Entry Map needed to meld information from quite a few sources together with elevation data from U.S. Geological Survey, sidewalk and curb minimize information from the Seattle Division of Transportation and notifications about building from metropolis constructing permits.

“Nothing was standardized,” mentioned Caspi. “As we had been attempting to develop [the maps] to all of King County, the lack of requirements in the information turned a actually large concern, as a result of it takes a lot effort and time to do the information wrangling.”

In an try and make it simpler for others to comply with in their footsteps, the UW researchers just lately launched their OpenSidewalks mission, which is able to create a set of standards for mapping pedestrian routes.

“Our aim is to have a set of device kits and directions so different municipalities and native communities can get their very own mapping efforts up and operating,” mentioned Nick Bolten, a UW electrical engineering doctoral pupil and mission lead for Entry Map and OpenSidewalks.

The researchers are additionally working with OpenStreetMap, which is a world mapping mission that makes use of crowd-sourced data to replace roads, bus routes and extra — however hasn’t systematically included pedestrian data in a significant means.

The group has recognized 10 city areas which might be promising candidates for growing higher pedestrian mapping instruments, together with New York, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, Pittsburgh, Denver, Philadelphia and Atlanta.

Study Extra: The Entry Map and OpenSidewalks crew will discuss their initiatives on Feb. 2 from midday to 1 p.m. at the “Open to All: Designing for the Full Range of Human Experience” exhibit at the Center for Architecture & Design, 1010 Western Ave. in Seattle.

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