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Wheelmap: the wheelchair accessibility crowdsourcing platform

  • Sozialhelden e.V.

Abstract and Figures

Crowdsourcing (geo-) information and participatory GIS are among the current hot topics in research and industry. Various projects are implementing participatory sensing concepts within their workflow in order to benefit from the power of volunteers, and improve their product quality and efficiency. Wheelmap is a crowdsourcing platform where volunteers contribute information about wheelchair-accessible places. This article presents information about the technical framework of Wheelmap, and information on how it could be used in projects dealing with accessibility and/or multimodal transportation.
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S O F T W A R E Open Access
Wheelmap: the wheelchair accessibility
crowdsourcing platform
Amin Mobasheri
, Jonas Deister
and Holger Dieterich
Crowdsourcing (geo-) information and participatory GIS are among the current hot topics in research and industry.
Various projects are implementing participatory sensing concepts within their workflow in order to benefit from the
power of volunteers, and improve their product quality and efficiency. Wheelmap is a crowdsourcing platform
where volunteers contribute information about wheelchair-accessible places. This article presents information
about the technical framework of Wheelmap, and information on how it could be used in projects dealing
with accessibility and/or multimodal transportation.
Keywords: Wheelmap, OpenStreetMap, Open data, Crowdsourcing, VGI, Accessibility
Wheelmap - a map for wheelchair-accessible places is an
initiative of the Sozialhelden, a grassroots organisation
from Berlin, Germany. On Wheelmap
everyone from all
over the world can find and add places and rate them by
using a traffic light system. The map, which is available
since 2010, shall help wheelchair users and people with
mobility impairments to plan their day more effectively.
Currently, more than 800,000 cafés, libraries, swimming
pools, and many more public places have been captured.
While the majority of the places which have been added
so far are located in Germany, the mapping platform
works globally, as it is based on OpenStreetMap (OSM).
The Wheelmap interface is available in Arabic, Danish,
German, Greek, English, Spanish, French, Icelandic,
Italian, Japanese, Swedish, Turkish, Korean, and Polish.
Wheelchairs or purpose-built cars on the one hand,
elevators and ramps on the other allow people with
mobility impairments to plan their day independently
to a great extent. But frequently, the last meters de-
cide whether the trip to the cinema, beer garden or
supermarket was worth the effort. Just one single step
at the entrance can be an insurmountable obstacle,
and this is where Wheelmap comes into play. Users
provide information for other users on how accessible
a destination is. Thereby, the map contributes to an
active and diversified lifestyle for wheelchair users.
People with rollators or buggies benefit from this tool
as well. Furthermore, the aim of Wheelmap is to
make owners of wheelchair-inaccessible public places
aware of the problem. They should be encouraged to
reflect on and improve the accessibility of their
As mentioned earlier, Wheelmap is based on Open-
StreetMap, an open, editable map of the digital open
source map of the world. Everyone can search for
places and provided they have been tagged get in-
formation about how easily accessible the places are.
Those who sign up as a user are able to add and rate
new places. An easy traffic light system marks the
wheelchair accessibility of a place: Green signifies an
unrestricted access e.g. because there are no steps or
there is a permanent ramp, an elevator or other tools
which allow the entrance. Places which are orange-
colored have no toilets but might have a foldable ramp
for example. Places which are red-colored are not ac-
cessible for wheelchair users. In general, the more
people join Wheelmap and add places the more precise
and informative the map gets.
Sozialhelden is an incorporated, not for profit soci-
ety, located in Berlin, Germany. In addition to a small
paid staff, it comprises a network of volunteers en-
gaging in various activities regarding social justice. It
* Correspondence:
GIScience research group, Institute of Geography, Heidelberg University,
Heidelberg, Germany
Full list of author information is available at the end of the article
Open Geospatial Data,
Software and Standards
© The Author(s). 2017 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and
reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to
the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Mobasheri et al. Open Geospatial Data, Software and Standards (2017) 2:27
DOI 10.1186/s40965-017-0040-5
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
is financed by taking part in contests, by receiving
donations from public and private sponsors, and by
supporting Wheelmap-related activities of social
The main objective is to gather information about the
accessibility of public places (points of interest, POI).
Everyone is invited to participate and provide their own
tagging of places on an OSM-based map at the Wheel-
map website.
In the past decade, OpenStreetMap in particular, and
Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) in general,
have gained special attention in various research
projects. Such free and open datasets have been used in
several application domains including routing and navi-
gation [14], transportation studies [5, 6], urban and
environmental challenges [7, 8], as well as disaster man-
agement [9].
So far, several efforts have been done regarding
research studies specifically addressing accessibility
issues using crowdsourced datasets. This is while
there are still research gaps in developing an efficient
framework for accessible transportation. For instance,
in one of the early works, Prandi et al., [10] explored
the potentials of the crowdsourcing communities in
improving data access and services in the field of dis-
able pedestrian mobility. Similar works have been
followed by [1119]. Among those, mPASS [19] pre-
sents a valuable mobile pervasive accessibility social
sensing framework. mPASS collects data about urban
and building accessibility to provide personalized
paths. Their framework is similar to Wheelmap, be-
sides the fact that Wheelmap only focuses on access-
ible points of interests (building, toilets, etc.), while
mPASS also considers accessible routes. In another
study, Salomoni et, al. [16] present the results of field
trials with mobile applications that employing differ-
ent gamification mechanisms. The authors conclude
that some of the apps are able to drive users to pro-
vide more contributions. Further discussions on their
study can be found at [16].
A main concern regarding using crowdsourced data-
sets such as OpenStreetMap is the level of quality
they carry [20]. Several methods exists in assessing
VGI data quality [21]. Among the studies carried out
on using VGI data for urban accessibility, some of
them evaluate, argue and enrich the fitness for
purpose of this data source [2224]. For instance,
Mobasheri et, al. [23] evaluates the completeness of
sidewalk information (as well as other relevant data
for accessibility) in OpenStreetMap database and
discusses the lack of data completeness with applying
extrinsic and intrinsic data analysis. Wheelmap,
among other possibilities, can be used by volunteers
to enrich accessibility information in OpenStreetMap.
Wheelmap has had a great influence in research pro-
jects. Several studies have used or cited Wheelmap as
one of the main crowdsourcing platforms in the ac-
cessibility domain [18, 19, 2531]. Hence, this study
aims to introduce this platform for a better under-
standing and usage in future studies.
Wheelmap architecture
Technically, Wheelmap currently comprises two
major applications (Fig. 1). One is the publicly avail-
able platform for collaborative tagging, and the other
is a platform for developers so that they can test new
functionality and quality-check new data sources (e.g.
sponsored data) before applying it to the live server.
Wheelmap provides a RESTful API to access and
maintain the Wheelmap relevant data within OSM.
The REST requests are to be authorized by an api_-
key, which can be obtained for a Wheelmap account.
Such an account is based on a valid OSM account.
Registration for Wheelmap is offered at Wheelmaps
login website.
Resources at GitHub
Public applications and components of Wheelmap are
hosted as open source at GitHub.
Besides the standard web interface, the main applica-
tions for the mobile collaborative crowd-sourcing process
are (Fig. 2):
Wheelmap-android An android app for
Wheelmap, with full editing and search capabilities,
direction pointers as well as a tablet version.
Wheelmap-iPhone An iOS version of Wheelmap
Recently added functionality includes helpful services
such as:
Users can add images to a place. Images can be added
from either the camera or from the photo album.
The Get engagedfunction shows unmarked places
Users can share the link to any place on
via Facebook, Twitter, email and SMS.
Users can ask their network and friends via
Facebook, Twitter and email if they know the
wheelchair accessibility of an unmarked place and
can tag it accordingly.
The Routefunction shows users a route from
their current position to a certain place on In the list view, a user can see
Mobasheri et al. Open Geospatial Data, Software and Standards (2017) 2:27 Page 2 of 7
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how far away a place is from the current position
of the user.
Wheelmap, as well as OSM, is a Ruby on Rails
plication. Wheelmap therefore has created a ruby
client, named Rosemary, to easily access the
current OpenStreetMap API. Furthermore, Maki
is a
point of interest icon set made especially for use with
MapBox maps. Each icon is designed 3 times for 12,
18, and 24 pixels wide/tall. Style files
for ArcGIS
10.1+ are available, including both Desktop and
Server versions, and standard and high-resolution
versions of the PNG renders.
The publicly documented RESTful API of Wheelmap
is the most appropriate component to integrate
Wheelmap data and facilities into new or foreign ap-
plications (Table 1).
Development and testing of applications is done
against a sandbox branch of OSM, which is accessed
by the RESTful Wheelmap API at http://staging.wheel- Requests have to be authenticated and
Fig. 2 Android app for tablet (left), iPhone app (right)
Fig. 1 The two Wheelmap applications with the Sandbox DevelopersPlayground (left), and the live operational platform (right)
Mobasheri et al. Open Geospatial Data, Software and Standards (2017) 2:27 Page 3 of 7
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thus authorized by a valid api_key. Changes made by
the staging API at least appear in the recommended
OSM sandbox for editing, which is accessible at The effects of
test runs appear at this site in the same way as they
will appear in production at live OSM.
Results and discussion
The tagging process
crowdsourced tagging platforms [3134]. When view-
ing a map, users will be shown all available POIs from
a set of 12 categories (Fig. 3). Users may deselect
those that they are not interested in and may contrib-
ute their own information by clicking on one of the
icons. Clicking on a gray icon, i.e. one that has not yet
received an accessibility value, results in a pop-up
window where they can immediately choose one of
the three presented options resulting in a subsequent
green, orange or red colouring of the icon. Wheelmap
users may only provide a new accessibility tag (colour-
ing) without any constraints (e.g. no registration
required) only when providing further information
(via the Detailsbutton) Fig. 4a and c. This free
process of tagging and re-tagging is proof of the high
trust of the providers in the responsibility of the
Wheelmap user community and would ease the
process of data entry.
Table 1 Overview of the resources of the RESTful API
API Docs The documentation pages itself
Resources GET the base API URI - information about sub-resources.
Assets GET the assets collection.
Categories GET the categories collection.
Locales GET a collection of all available locales.
Nodes GET the nodes collection.
- Filter nodes by a search term.
- Filter nodes by a bounding box,
- Filter nodes by a wheelchair status
POST Create a new node.
PUT Update an existing node.
Update the wheelchair status of an existing node.
NodesTypes GET the node type collection.
This resource can also be nested within a category.
To just return the node types associated with the
given category.
Users POST Authenticate a given user with email &
password and return the users API key.
POST Declare that an authenticated user has wilfully
accepted wheelmap.orgs terms of usage and privacy
Photos GET a collection of photos of a user or a node.
POST Upload a new Photo for the given node.
Fig. 3 A map showing POIs in four different colours
Mobasheri et al. Open Geospatial Data, Software and Standards (2017) 2:27 Page 4 of 7
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Clicking on an already tagged non-gray icon returns
a pop-up window as shown in Fig. 4 (c). This window
shows the existing value for the tag, but allows the
user to change it. This ease of changing tags will pos-
sibly have repercussions in later debates in the project
about possible means of securing data quality and in-
tegrity. Interesting in this respect is also the button
in the lower right corner of pictures (a) and (c) in
Fig. 4. This is used in order to explicitly object to the
existent assessment of a place, and to suggest another
one. Geographical areas or particular users with ex-
ceptionally high rates of changes or change requests
should give rise to major concerns and possibly ac-
tions to be taken from the providersside.
Clicking on the Detailsbutton in the windows (a)
and (c) in Figure triggers a window as depicted in
Fig. 5. The photos of the tagged barbershop demon-
strates why the shop is only partiallyaccessible, e.g.
because one has to take a small step in the entry pas-
sage (there is a comment in red font by another user
that the place is *not* accessible). The right column
of this window shows the location of the place on a
map, its address, and a list of nearby alternative
This article presents the framework and functional-
ities of Wheelmap one of the promising existing
platforms for the mobility impaired. Since its first re-
lease, Wheelmap has gained great interest and atten-
tion by the accessibility communities. Nowadays,
Wheelmap has become the worldsmostextensive
database on wheelchair accessible places; a database
with more than 800,000 points of interest which have
been rated by an active community gathered around
the project. The Wheelmap project is one of several
Fig. 4 aTagging a new point (POI). bSelectable POI categories. cFurther describe an already tagged point
Mobasheri et al. Open Geospatial Data, Software and Standards (2017) 2:27 Page 5 of 7
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projects being run by a team at the non-profit organ-
isation Sozialhelden. In order to ensure that this am-
bitious idea could grow into a successful project,
Wheelmaps activity was designed for scalability from
the very beginning. The Wheelmap team has won
numerous national and international prizes. Among
those are the Deutscher Bürgerpreis 2010 and World
Summit Award Mobile 2012 by United Nations. It
also received the Vodafone Accessibility Award 2011
from Neelie Kroes, formerly European Commissioner
for Digital Agenda.
The authors would like to thank all the team members in Sozialhelden as
well as project partners in European FP7 project CAP4Access, who have in
any way supported and contributed to the Wheelmap project. We are also
thankful to all the volunteers who use the service and provide accessibility
information. We acknowledge OpenStreetMap project and its volunteers
whom have provided the means and basic infrastructure for development of
Wheelmap. We acknowledge the financial support of the Deutsche
Forschungsgemeinschaft and Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg within
the funding programme Open Access Publishing.
Authors have received funding from the European Communitys Seventh
Framework Programme (FP7/20072013) under grant agreement No. 612096
Availability of data and materials
All applications and components of Wheelmap are hosted as open source at
This includes Wheelmap-android,
RESTful API of Wheelmap.
AM has written the article. JD and HD have proofread and provided comments
that improved the article. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Not applicable
Competing interests
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Fig. 5 Wheelmap tag info for a barbershop (category partially accessible), after selecting Detailsbutton in the menu of Fig. 4a
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Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in
published maps and institutional affiliations.
Author details
GIScience research group, Institute of Geography, Heidelberg University,
Heidelberg, Germany.
Sozialhelden, Berlin, Germany.
Received: 18 October 2017 Accepted: 8 November 2017
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... Les données nécessaires à la déduction de ces obstacles étant souvent fournies par les collectivités. Dans le même ordre d'idée, WheelMap [73] et WE-MAP [74] proposent des fonctionnalités similaires en optant pour une récupération des informations par une approche de production participative. Bien qu'appartenant au domaine de l'assistance, ces projets ne font pas usage d'un environnement instrumentalisé par des objets connectés pour fournir leurs services. ...
La transformation des villes en « villes intelligentes » est un des objectifs que les gouvernements visent depuis une dizaine d’années. Cette transformation touche à plusieurs aspects de la ville, dont l’éco-citoyenneté, la gouvernance durable ou encore la mobilité intelligente. C’est sur cet aspect que nos travaux se focalisent. En effet, malgré une certaine progression depuis quelques années, les personnes à mobilité réduite sont souvent oubliées dans la question de l’amélioration des déplacements urbains grâce aux technologies de l’information et de la communication.Parmi ces technologies, l’intelligence artificielle englobe plusieurs domaines et est en plein essor. Un de ces derniers, l’intelligence ambiante vise à la conception de services interconnectés interagissant avec l’environnement physique réel pour offrir des services visant à supporter les activités humaines. C’est dans ce contexte que se placent nos travaux : l’étude et la construction d’un système ambiant dédié à l’assistance des personnes à mobilité réduite en milieu urbain. Or, plusieurs verrous contraignent la conception d’un tel système. Tout d’abord, dans ces domaines, nous avons remarqué que le vocabulaire des termes issus de ces domaines était inconstant, et que toute la communauté scientifique n’est pas unanime sur la définition de certains concepts. Notre première contribution consiste en une ontologie, décrite en OWL, qui recouvre l’ensemble des éléments et concepts nécessaires à la conception de ce type de systèmes. Ensuite, plusieurs études scientifiques actuelles soulignent le manque de modèle d’architecture générique pour de tels systèmes. Ce faisant, la myriade de solutions proposées dans ce domaine souffre de limites fortes sur le plan de l’interopérabilité et de la réutilisabilité des travaux. C’est pourquoi notre deuxième contribution se traduit en un modèle générique facilitant la conception de tout type de système ambiant dédié à l’assistance. Ce modèle s’appuie sur l’ontologie proposée, tout en gardant les utilisateurs au centre du modèle. Enfin, il a été remarqué que les systèmes ambiants dédiés à l'assistance sont déployés de manière ad-hoc. Soit en simulation, en évaluant statistiquement les sorties du système. Soit en milieu réel, où l'évaluation du système se fait par la même observation statistique des sorties, ou par un questionnaire d'évaluation soumis aux utilisateurs. Nous proposons une approche originale de mise en œuvre de tels systèmes. D'une part, cette dernière se base sur une mise en opération du système par simulation hybride, sur laquelle les éléments réels sont ajoutés progressivement, jusqu'à un déploiement en milieu réel complet. D'autre part, dans le but d'évaluer l'impact direct du système, nous proposons l'analyse de son impact par les outils issus du domaine de l'analyse du réseau social des utilisateurs.
... Existing geographic information services namely, Google Maps and FourSquare, facilitate information collection by allowing users to report accessibility information such as wheelchair accessibility on specific points of interest [15]. Wheelmap [39] is a dedicated platform with a simple rating interface for reporting wheelchair accessibility of places by crowdsourcing. A few other studies have combined manually reported accessibility data with heterogeneous data such as sensor data (see Section 2.4) [9,42], public transportation data [34], and authoritative data sources [42]. ...
... To support this short-term goal, accessible and connected communities with recent smart technologies have been receiving more attention. Volunteers can evaluate and submit location-based accessibility data using mobile apps like SeeClickFix [7,8] and Wheelmap [9,10], which can then be made publicly available. However, due to low acceptance and dependence on voluntary, in-person efforts, these tools typically suffer from data scarcity. ...
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This research presents an adaptive and personalized routing model that enables individuals with mobility impairments to save their route preferences to a mobility assistant platform. The proactive approach based on anticipated user need accommodates vulnerable road users' personalized optimum dynamic routing rather than a reactive approach passively awaiting input. Most currently available trip planners target the general public's use of simpler route options prioritized based on static road characteristics. These static normative approaches are only satisfactory when conditions of intermediate intersections in the network are consistent, a constant rate of change occurs per each change of the segment condition, and the same fixed routes are valid every day regardless of the user preference. In this study, the vulnerable road user mobility problem is modeled by accommodating personalized preferences changing by time, sidewalk segment traversability, and the interaction between sidewalk factors and weather conditions for each segment contributing to a path choice. The developed reinforcement learning solution presents a lower average cost of personalized, accessible, and optimal path choices in various trip scenarios and superior to traditional shortest path algorithms (e.g., Dijkstra) with static and dynamic extensions.
... Maps are widely used for analyzing and communicating urban issues due to their spatial arrangement, visual impact, and perceived credibility [38]. Existing accessibility assessment tools are largely map-based [1,5,12,13,45,52] with street-and sidewalk-level views. While these tools ofer information on POI accessibility [1, 5] and customized views of sidewalk accessibility based on mobility needs [12,45], these tools and visualization types have yet to be studied across diferent stakeholders. ...
Conference Paper
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Urban accessibility assessments are challenging: they involve varied stakeholders across decision-making contexts while serving a diverse population of people with disabilities. To better support urban accessibility assessment using data visualizations, we conducted a three-part interview study with 25 participants across five stakeholder groups using map visualization probes. We present a multi-stakeholder analysis of visualization needs and sensemaking processes to explore how interactive visualizations can support stakeholder decision making. In particular, we elaborate how stakeholders’ varying levels of familiarity with accessibility, geospatial analysis, and specific geographic locations influences their sensemaking needs. We then contribute 10 design considerations for geovisual analytic tools for urban accessibility communication, planning, policymaking, and advocacy.
... OSM, Wheelmap, Wikimapia, and WorldMap are some of the significant VGI projects. The Wheelmap project is carried out for individuals with walking disabilities to identify geographical objects on the map suitable for wheelchair use [9]. WorldMap is a project that rapidly initiated the generation of geographic data for Africa [10], before expanding to other continents. ...
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Mapping as an action in volunteered geographic information is complex in light of the human diversity within the volunteer community. There is no integrated solution that models and fixes all data heterogeneity. Instead, researchers are attempting to assess and understand crowdsourced data. Approaches based on statistics are helpful to comprehend trends in crowd-drawing behaviors. This study examines trends in contributors’ first decisions when drawing OpenStreetMap buildings. The proposed approach evaluates how important the properties of a point are in determining the first point of building drawings. It classifies the adjacency types of the buildings using a random forest classifier for the properties and aids in inferring drawing trends from the relative impact of each property. To test the approach, detached and attached building groups in Istanbul and Izmir, Turkey, were used. The result had an 83% F-score. In summary, the volunteers tended to choose as first points those further away from the street and building centroid and provided lower point density in the detached buildings than the attached ones. This means that OSM volunteers paid more attention to open spaces when drawing the first points of the detached buildings in the study areas. The study reveals common drawing trends in building-mapping actions.
... The WheelMap app is presented by Mobasheri et al. (2017). A collaborative accessibility map for wheelchair users based on OpenStreetMap. ...
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Introduction: Accessibility can help people with disabilities to participate actively in the society with equal access and equal opportunities. Accessible tourism enables people to become more included and enjoy tourism experiences. Technology has facilitated tourism for people with disabilities and a Geographic Information System (GIS) can provide the tourist guidance, navigable digital maps and enable the searching of places information. Purpose: The objective of this paper is to describe the development of a collaborative app with accessibility information in order to help people with disabilities planning and moving more independently. Method: To develop this work a research about GIS apps related to disabled people was carried out, a pilot project to validate the idea and the app development proposed. Results: The accessible places map was developed using free GIS technologies and is available for download in Google Play Store. Conclusions: The app will help people with disabilities to move more safely and comfortably, and the increase of public data in GIS by the civil engagement.
... This method of working could beneficially be developed and integrated into some form of open-source data platform. The concept of encouraging citizens to report accessibility barriers and provide information for others has been tested previously; see, for instance, [25,26], where focus has been on adding and rating physical barriers in order to gather information about the accessibility of public places. Places with major accessibility weaknesses should give rise to initiatives for change. ...
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The ability to live the life one wants with public transport is one of the key factors of sustainable and inclusive societies. Given the current trend in the transport domain, providing accessible public transport is necessary in order to allow people to participate in their day-to-day activities without using a car. Using survey data obtained from Sweden, this study investigates factors that may have a negative effect on the perceived accessibility of public transportation in major city areas and other areas. Overall, regression analyses show that time and economic resources, organizational and temporal functions, frequent travel by public transport, and geographical context all act as accessibility barriers. These findings highlight the need not only to target increased mobility in urban environments, but also to turn the focus to the citizenry’s perceived accessibility. These findings point to implications for policies, planning and interventions targeted at accessible public transport. Adopting an accessibility-oriented approach to urban development, including the individual perspective, could be a pathway for creating a socially sustainable transport system.
It is much more difficult for people with visual or mobility impairments to prepare for a trip or visit unfamiliar places than it is for people without disabilities. In addition to the usual travel arrangements, one needs to know if the various parts of the travel chain are accessible. To the best of our knowledge, there is no previous work that examines in depth travel behaviour for indoor environments for both trip planning and execution, highlighting the special needs of people with low vision, blindness or mobility impairments. In this paper, we present a survey with 125 participants with blindness, low vision and mobility impairments. We investigate how mobile they are, what strategies they use to prepare a journey to an unknown building, how they orient themselves there and what materials they use. For all three groups, our results provide insights into the problem space of the specific information needs when planning and executing a trip. We found that most of our participants have specific mobility problems depending on their disability. Feedback from the participants reveals there is a large information gap, especially for orientation in buildings, regarding availability of high-quality digital, tactile and printable indoor maps, accessibility of buildings and mobility supporting systems. In particular, there is a lack of available and high-quality indoor maps. Our analysis also points out that the specific needs differ for the three groups. Besides the expected between-group differences, also large in-group differences can be found. The current paper is an expanded version of [18] augmented by data of people with mobility impairments.
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Finding relevant geospatial information is increasingly critical because of the growing volume of geospatial data available within the emerging “Big Data” era. Users are expecting that the availability of massive datasets will create more opportunities to uncover hidden information and answer more complex queries. This is especially the case with routing and navigation services where the ability to retrieve points of interest and landmarks make the routing service personalized, precise, and relevant. In this paper, we propose a new geospatial information approach that enables the retrieval of implicit information, i.e., geospatial entities that do not exist explicitly in the available source. We present an information broker that uses a rule-based spatial reasoning algorithm to detect topological relations. The information broker is embedded into a framework where annotations and mappings between OpenStreetMap data attributes and external resources, such as taxonomies, support the enrichment of queries to improve the ability of the system to retrieve information. Our method is tested with two case studies that leads to enriching the completeness of OpenStreetMap data with footway crossing points-of-interests as well as building entrances for routing and navigation purposes. It is concluded that the proposed approach can uncover implicit entities and contribute to extract required information from the existing datasets.
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As it is widely accepted, cycling tends to produce health benefits and reduce air pollution. Policymakers encourage people to use bikes by improving cycling facilities as well as developing bicycle-sharing systems (BSS). It is increasingly interesting to investigate how environmental factors influence the cycling behavior of users of bicycle-sharing systems, as users of bicycle-sharing systems tend to be different from regular cyclists. Although earlier studies have examined effects of safety and convenience on the cycling behavior of regular riders, they rarely explored effects of safety and convenience on the cycling behavior of BSS riders. Therefore, in this study, we aimed to investigate how road safety, convenience, and public safety affect the cycling behavior of BSS riders by controlling for other environmental factors. Specifically, in this study, we investigated the impacts of environmental characteristics, including population density, employment density, land use mix, accessibility to point-of-interests (schools, shops, parks and gyms), road infrastructure, public transit accessibility, road safety, convenience, and public safety on the usage of BSS. Additionally, for a more accurate measure of public transit accessibility, road safety, convenience, and public safety, we used spatiotemporally varying measurements instead of spatially varying measurements, which have been widely used in earlier studies. We conducted an empirical investigation in Chicago with cycling data from a BSS called Divvy. In this study, we particularly attempted to answer the following questions: (1) how traffic accidents and congestion influence the usage of BSS; (2) how violent crime influences the usage of BSS; and (3) how public transit accessibility influences the usage of BSS. Moreover, we tried to offer implications for policies aiming to increase the usage of BSS or for the site selection of new docking stations. Empirical results demonstrate that density of bicycle lanes, public transit accessibility, and public safety influence the usage of BSS, which provides answers for our research questions. Empirical results also suggest policy implications that improving bicycle facilities and reducing the rate of violent crime rates tend to increase the usage of BSS. Moreover, some environmental factors could be considered in selecting a site for a new docking station.
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Nowadays, Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) has increasingly gained attractiveness to both amateur users and professionals. Using data generated from the crowd has become a hot topic for several application domains including transportation. However, there are concerns regarding the quality of such datasets. As one of the most famous crowdsourced mapping platforms, we analyze the fitness for use of OpenStreetMap (OSM) database for routing and navigation of people with limited mobility. We assess the completeness of OSM data regarding sidewalk information. Relevant attributes for sidewalk information such as sidewalk width, incline, surface texture, etc. are considered, and through both extrinsic and intrinsic quality analysis methods, we present the results of fitness for use of OSM data for routing services of disabled persons. Based on empirical results, it is concluded that OSM data of relatively large spatial extents inside all studied cities could be an acceptable region of interest to test and evaluate wheelchair routing and navigation services, as long as other data quality parameters such as positional accuracy and logical consistency are checked and proved to be acceptable. We present an extended version of OSMatrix web service and explore how it is employed to perform spatial and temporal analysis of sidewalk data completeness in OSM. The tool is beneficial for piloting activities, whereas the pilot site planners can query OpenStreetMap and visualize the degree of sidewalk data availability in a certain region of interest. This would allow identifying the areas that data are mostly missing and plan for data collection events. Furthermore, empirical results of data completeness for several OSM data indicators and their potential relation to sidewalk data completeness are presented and discussed. Finally, the article ends with an outlook for future research study in this area.
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With the development of information and communications technology, user-generated content and crowdsourced data are playing a large role in studies of transport and public health. Recently, Strava, a popular website and mobile app dedicated to tracking athletic activity (cycling and running), began offering a data service called Strava Metro, designed to help transportation researchers and urban planners to improve infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians. Strava Metro data has the potential to promote studies of cycling and health by indicating where commuting and non-commuting cycling activities are at a large spatial scale (street level and intersection level). The assessment of spatially varying effects of air pollution during active travel (cycling or walking) might benefit from Strava Metro data, as a variation in air pollution levels within a city would be expected. In this paper, to explore the potential of Strava Metro data in research of active travel and health, we investigate spatial patterns of non-commuting cycling activities and associations between cycling purpose (commuting and non-commuting) and air pollution exposure at a large scale. Additionally, we attempt to estimate the number of non-commuting cycling trips according to environmental characteristics that may help identify cycling behavior. Researchers who are undertaking studies relating to cycling purpose could benefit from this approach in their use of cycling trip data sets that lack trip purpose. We use the Strava Metro Nodes data from Glasgow, United Kingdom in an empirical study. Empirical results reveal some findings that (1) when compared with commuting cycling activities, non-commuting cycling activities are more likely to be located in outskirts of the city; (2) spatially speaking, cyclists riding for recreation and other purposes are more likely to be exposed to relatively low levels of air pollution than cyclists riding for commuting; and (3) the method for estimating of the number of non-commuting cycling activities works well in this study. The results highlight: (1) a need for policymakers to consider how to improve cycling infrastructure and road safety in outskirts of cities; and (2) a possible way of estimating the number of non-commuting cycling activities when the trip purpose of cycling data is unknown.
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Although geo-crowdsourcing approaches provide an opportunity to collect and share environmental accessibility information for people with disabilities, it is not clear whether individuals from different user groups have similar or different behavior while contributing volunteered geographic information about environmental accessibility. In this paper, we present a case study to investigate how users (including elderly people, wheelchair users, blind and visually impaired people as well as volunteers) annotate environmental accessibility information in their journey. We found that subjects from different user groups had different behavior while annotating accessibility information and volunteers who do not have a disability are not good at spotting environmental accessibility issues. With these findings, we conclude a series of insights about how to collect collaborative environmental accessibility for designers and developers.
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With the ubiquity of advanced web technologies and location-sensing hand held devices, citizens regardless of their knowledge or expertise, are able to produce spatial information. This phenomenon is known as volunteered geographic information (VGI). During the past decade VGI has been used as a data source supporting a wide range of services, such as environmental monitoring, events reporting, human movement analysis, disaster management, etc. However, these volunteer-contributed data also come with varying quality. Reasons for this are: data is produced by heterogeneous contributors, using various technologies and tools, having different level of details and precision, serving heterogeneous purposes, and a lack of gatekeepers. Crowd-sourcing, social, and geographic approaches have been proposed and later followed to develop appropriate methods to assess the quality measures and indicators of VGI. In this article, we review various quality measures and indicators for selected types of VGI and existing quality assessment methods. As an outcome, the article presents a classification of VGI with current methods utilized to assess the quality of selected types of VGI. Through these findings, we introduce data mining as an additional approach for quality handling in VGI.
Conference Paper
Social innovations are increasingly being seen as a way of compensating for insufficiencies of both, state and market to create inclusive and accessible environments. In this paper we explore crowdsourcing accessibility information as a form of social innovation, requiring adequate engagement strategies that fit the skills of the intended group of volunteers and ensure the needed levels of data accuracy and reliability. The tools that were used for crowdsourcing included printed maps, mobile apps for collective tagging, blogs for reflection and visualizations of changing mapping statuses.
Conference Paper
Wayfinding is a common task routinely performed by people traveling between unfamiliar locations, but can be a challenge for people with disabilities. In order to be able to travel safely and comfortably, people with physical disabilities depend on the accessibility of the built environment. It is through these accessibility elements that people who use wheelchairs can find their ways in unfamiliar environments. When used by people with disabilities, wayfinding and navigation services must contain accessibility data and support functions to utilize this data. However, while there are standards, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines, upon which accessibility data can be based or derived, currently there is no automated metric for evaluating the level of accessibility for pathways. To fill this gap, this paper proposes a Route Accessibility Index as a metric for evaluating a pathway’s accessibility and discusses its value in a wayfinding case study.