Connecthings, an urban tech company, launched a pilot program to deliver real-time Capital Metro bus schedule and service alert information to riders who are blind or visually impaired. The program, which will run for the next 60 days at 16 Capital Metro bus stops across downtown Austin, was developed in partnership with RATP Dev USA, Capital Metro’s bus service operations and management partner; BlindSquare, the world's most popular accessible GPS application for people who are blind or visually impaired, and BlueCats, manufacturers of the world's most advanced Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE) beacons and intelligent internet of things (IIoT) asset tracking solutions.
This digital infrastructure, powered by Connecthings, works in connection with the BlindSquare app to transform how transit riders, who are blind or visually impaired, interact with public transportation in Austin. Through the app, riders can now get real-time bus schedule and service alert information automatically when in proximity to the stop. BlindSquare brings the riders to the stop, and supports the continuation of the journey to the destination of choice when exiting the bus.
“Technology is a remarkable thing. Every day new developments, devices and discoveries are made which have the potential to change the world as we know it,” said Laetitia Gazel Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings. “For riders who are blind or partially sighted, Connecthings, Capital Metro, and RAPT Dev are breaking down key communication barriers that can inhibit the lives of those who are, in this case, visually impaired. This pilot program will demonstrate how easily and efficiently transportation systems can deliver information to riders from the first mile to the last mile.”
“The use of beacons, especially integrated with smart mobile apps, provides the potential of many useful applications that can benefit the community,” said Joe Iannello, Capital Metro VP and chief information officer. “This initial demonstration in Austin with Connecthings, BlueCats, and BlindSquare is a first step in exploring some of those benefits.”
At launch, the pilot program will only be open to a select number of “beta-riders” that will use the app on a daily basis while providing feedback and input for optimizing and improving the service.
This program is just one of many services that can be enabled by Connecthings in a smart city environment. In addition to delivering real-time bus information to the blind and visually impaired, the same information can be access by other riders via push notifications. In June 2017, Connecthings joined AustinCityUp, a smart city consortium of companies, organizations, and individuals collaborating on activities that advance Austin through digital technologies, data collection, analytics, and modeling.