Envision, the City of Wichita Transit Department and Gimbal Inc. announced a partnership today that marks the first step toward revolutionizing mass transit within Wichita for individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
As part of the joint pilot project, Gimbal beacons will be installed at 1,200 Wichita Transit bus stops and Envision’s two Wichita locations on Main and Water Streets. Gimbal, a California-based technology company, will supply the beacons and the tools needed to effectively manage the solution.
“People with vision loss who rely on public transportation to get them to their daily destinations often face challenges navigating to and from bus stops. The partnership between Envision, Wichita Transit and Gimbal is focused on alleviating those challenges through innovation,” said Envision President/CEO Michael Monteferrante. “While our driving goal is to increase independence for Envision employees and the people who use our services, the system we create has the potential to become a model for other cities to follow.”
Wichita’s beacon project will utilize Bluetooth low-energy signals to broadcast navigational information and timely and relevant messages to smart phones near areas where the beacons are installed, allowing users to pinpoint locations with greater accuracy than can be achieved with basic GPS applications.
A timeline for installation is being finalized. Plans call for the beacons to go live as soon as they are put in place. At that time, all Wichita bus riders will have the opportunity to download a free smart phone application that will provide details about system usage. After this initial application, the new insights will drive the development of a mobile application specifically tailored for blind or visually impaired riders. Envision, Wichita Transit and Gimbal will work together to onboard qualified mobile application developers.
About Envision: Envision promotes advocacy and independence for those who are blind or low vision. Founded in 1933, the Wichita-based Envision is one of the largest employers of individuals with vision loss in the nation.