In the city of Philadelphia, SmartCityPHL, the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability (OTIS), and SEPTA have issued the SEPTA For All Challenge, which asks people to present their best ideas for increasing accessibility with technology and augmented reality applications.
The SEPTA system consists of fixed-route options with established stations including buses, trolleys, subways, elevated trains, and regional rail. SEPTA also provides “CCT Connect” paratransit service – a door-to-door service that can be scheduled by eligible customers one to three days in advance of a trip.
Transit accessibility can include physical features, such as ramps or elevators, along with providing information to riders to safely and enjoyably use the transit system. Ideas for increasing accessibility should keep in mind the multiple, interconnected steps that are necessary when using the transit systems. These include: pre-trip planning and obtaining system information; traveling between the point of origin and the station or vehicle; station arrival; payment; station navigation and boarding; on-route orientation and information; transfers; and existing the system and heading to the final destination. Challenge organizers have issued a survey for people with disabilities to share their experiences with public transit and will share those results at the challenge kickoff event. Participants can use this information and also draw from their own experiences, accounts of family and friends, and resources shared by other people with disabilities.
Augmented reality applications are designed to interact with the real world and provide additional information – in the form of images or sounds – based on context. Currently primarily used in games, augmented reality can have other applications. Participants are encouraged to think creatively about presenting information that could improve the transit experience for people with disabilities, while also being mindful of the hardware that would be required to operate and the implications for access, equity, and cost effectiveness.
US Ignite, Facebook Reality Labs, and Comcast are providing more than $35,000 in cash prizes to winning entries, which will be piloted with SEPTA.