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Surveying the rules of the kerb

Coord has used the app itself to collect data on more than 12,000 kerbs across both San Francisco and Los Angeles

 

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With kerbs increasingly important in cites, the app can create a digital picture of kerb rules
With kerbs increasingly important in cites, the app can create a digital picture of kerb rules

Mobility data company, Coord, is making its augmented reality iPhone app, Surveyor, available to any organisation including government agencies, transportation consultants, and mobility companies.

 

Surveyor allows users to catalogue kerb rules and features and creates a digital database of as many kerbs in the US and Canada as possible.

 

Growing importance of kerbs in cities

 

With the growing importance of kerbs in cities, having a digital picture of the kerb rules is deemed essential for the future of urban transportation, said Coord, which is backed by the Google-sister urban innovation company, Sidewalk Labs. But in most US cities, nobody has a digital record of what the curb rules are at any given time or place.

 

“Kerbs are for more than just parallel parking,” said Amit Glazer, head of product at Coord, writing in a blog post on Medium, “With the rise of e-commerce and ride-hailing, and with all of the new shared vehicles cropping up, they’re becoming the key to understanding city streets.

 

“Kerbs are used for picking up and dropping off passengers, delivering packages, docking bikes, and getting on scooters. Particularly as all of these activities become more digital, it is essential that people are able to know how, when, and where they can use the kerb,” he continued.

 

Coord said when it set out to build a parking solution for Google Maps, it assumed that this data would be readily available but found it didn’t exist. In figuring out how to solve the challenge, it found consultants who specialise in this type of collection. But the level of detail and the number of features it required meant the cost became astronomical.

“With the rise of e-commerce and ride-hailing, and with all of the new shared vehicles cropping up, they’re [kerbs] becoming the key to understanding city streets"

As a result, Coord decided to build an app and accompanying management system that can be used to find the exact positions of parking signs and other assets at a “fraction of the cost and time” that traditional methods require. This output can be used to automatically produce a detailed and accurate map of the underlying kerb rules.

 

To use the Surveyor app, a person marks the beginning of the kerb by tapping a button in the app and then simply walks down the sidewalk, only stopping to take pictures of signs or to note the location of other kerb features, such as kerb cuts or kerb paint.

 

Once the end of the block is reached, they mark the end of the block in the app. As they do this, the app measures the kerb for them. As it uses the iPhone’s camera and accelerometer to keep track of your movement (rather than GPS), it can very accurately position two points relative to one another.

 

Not only does this speed up the process, but it also makes it much less susceptible to manual mistakes of measurement or sign transcription, according to Coord.

 

It uses the phone’s camera and accelerometer to keep track of your movement, so it can can very accurately position two points relative to one another.

 

Over the past several months, Coord has used Surveyor to collect data on more than 12,000 kerbs across both San Francisco and Los Angeles, and has piloted its external use with organisations, such as Streetline, who are interested in developing a digital record of kerbs in other cities.

 

As part of the launch, Coord is making Surveyor available for free one-month trials through the end of 2018.

 

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