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Proposals for the Septa for All: Augmenting Transit with Augmented Reality challenge can address any segment of a transit journey from trip planning through to arriving at a destination.
The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability (Otis) and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (Septa) are inviting innovators to submit ideas that would use augmented reality technology to make public transit more accessible to people with disabilities.
Proposals can address any segment of a transit journey from trip-planning through arriving at a destination.
Philadelphia’s smart city initiative SmartCityPHL is partnering with Septa and Otis to host the challenge.
“The pandemic amplified how critical public transit is to Philadelphians,” said Emily Yates, smart city director, City of Philadelphia.
“Our communities rely on public transit to accomplish daily tasks like going to work, school, and shopping. We want to make sure that as we reopen, public transit is accessible to all residents and visitors. We believe augmented reality can really help realise this goal and support an equitable recovery.”
Augmented reality combines digital and real-life content to enhance experiences. Philadelphia was one of three cities selected earlier in 2021 to host an augmented reality developer competition. Support for the challenge is provided by US Ignite, Facebook Technologies, and Comcast. The Institute on Disabilities at Temple University has also provided support in shaping the event.
“We want to make sure that as we reopen, public transit is accessible to all residents and visitors. We believe augmented reality can really help realise this goal and support an equitable recovery”
SmartCityPH is also requesting that people with disabilities share their experiences with navigating public transit through a survey available online through 17 July. Survey results will help inform ideas and solutions for the challenge.
“Creating an intuitive user experience is a central goal of Septa Forward, our new strategic plan,” added Lex Powers, strategic planning manager at Septa. “Through our ongoing Rail Transit Wayfinding Master Plan, we’ve been working with riders and community members to improve our signage, maps, language, and other communications tools. Now is the perfect time to explore how new technology can help us better serve our riders.”
The challenge will take part in three phases. First, an open application process will collect ideas and information about teams’ capabilities. Then, a judging panel will select up to 12 semi-finalists to present their ideas at a virtual pitch event.
Up to six teams with the top pitches will move on to the final round and receive small grants to develop working prototypes of their ideas. Ultimately, winning teams will be chosen from among the six finalists to receive a total of more than $35,000 in cash prizes and pilot their idea with Septa and the City.
Survey results will be shared at the challenge kick-off event on 19 July to provide insights that can help innovators refine their ideas. Survey results will also be made available to the public. Applications for Septa for All: Augmenting Transit with Augmented Reality challenge are due 2 August 2021.
Prospective applicants can find more information, including application and timeline, at phila.gov/septa-for-all. All events are open to the public.
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