Singaporeans, please help wheelchair users by collecting data on barrier-free routes for new app

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SINGAPORE - An app has been launched to crowdsource data to map out barrier-free routes, which will make it easier for wheelchair users to navigate around different parts of Singapore.

The SmartBFA app, officially launched in early March, has collected only a fraction of Singapore’s overall pathways so far, including areas such as Raffles Place, Bugis and Toa Payoh.

The seven-person team behind the app are hence calling on Singaporeans to download it - available on both the Apple and Android app stores - and start contributing by collecting data on their day-to-day journeys.

Their hope is that in the future, with most of Singapore mapped out to show the barrier-free routes and with barriers identified, wheelchair users will be able to use the app to get around and also check if buildings, toilets and entrances are accessible, said Mr Kai Reuber, one of the project leads.

Based on the information collected so far, the app has some basic routing ability, although that is not the main focus now as the team wants to grow the data pool first, he added.

The Straits Times first reported on SmartBFA in 2018, when it had set out a goal to have a functional mapping app by mid-2019.

Back then, a team of like-minded people involved in the tech industry had come together to start the project, after realising that their colleague who was a wheelchair user needed to take long detours to get around.

However, challenges came up along the way.

The original data collection method was to use fixed sensors on wheelchairs to identify barrier points.

Dr Tan Hwee Xian, also one of the project leads, said this method was slow and resulted in limited coverage, since they also asked people to just ...

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