When the MyAccessible.EU consortium met in Vienna on April 21 und 22 for one of our regular get-togethers, we spent half a day on the streets of the city. Equipped with the latest versions of our accessibility mapping tools, we stretched our legs and explored one part of central Vienna. The necessary preparations included downloading the mapping apps, allocating tasks among the attendees, and checking how well the area is covered on OpenStreetMap (OSM). For this last task we used Heidelberg University’s OSMatrix tool. Then, we split up into three groups and started roaming the streets.
The first group used the MyAccressible Navigation App to find accessible ways to predetermined locations in the vicinity. In this, the group was guided by OSM-generated landmarks which the app uses in place of traditional street names. Wherever we found navigation by landmarks to be unhelpful, or encountered alternative landmarks that would be better suited for guiding users, we noted these.
The second group was on the lookout for obstacles that would make it difficult or impossible for wheelchair users to pass. Such obstacles, if they had not already been mapped on OSM, were then documented using our new Obstacle Tagger. Once we were back in the office, this accessibility data was uploaded to OSM in the form of “requests xxx” in order to test the response from the local OSM community to our suggestions. The third group used an OSM editor (Vespucci) to add sidewalk attributes that were not yet mapped to OSM. This activity proved to be the most time-consuming, as sidewalk data on OSM is still very patchy even in well-mapped cities such as Vienna.
The experience produced a wealth of insights that will be used in the work of both MyAccessible.EU developers and pilot site managers. Moreover, it provided a great opportunity to get a backstreet-view of wonderful Vienna.
Photo credit: Jonas Deister