The SIMON Project's Approach to Enhance the Mobility of Older and Impaired Users
Eva Muñoz, ETRA Investigacion Y Desarrollo, S.A., Manuel Serrano, ETRA Investigación Y Desarrollo, S.A., Antonio Marqués, ETRA Investigación Y Desarrollo, S.A.
The SIMON Project focuses on an innovative ICT based solution for access-rights management in the context of the Blue Badge schema and on the use of available data sets for mobility impaired citizens’ applications.
Mobility and accessibility are extremely important aspects in daily routines for people with disabilities. There are many different problems in urban areas related with these issues, such as: difficulties for planning and manage trips using both public and private transport modes, locate and access to parking facilities or manage the access to certain restricted areas, among others. Initiatives like the European Disabled Parking Card (Blue Badge) have tried to facilitate mobility and parking, but they are not intended for easing trip planning and navigation. On the other hand, fraud and misuse situations are also very important concerns that affect to the disabled card: fraudulent use of Blue Badges prevents people in genuine need from accessing on-street parking where they need it most.
The SIMON Project (asSIsted Mobility for Older aNd impaired users) is an initiative addressing innovative solutions to enhance the mobility experience for those with impairments. SIMON, started in January 2014, is an EU-funded demonstration oriented project aiming to use ICT services to promote the independent living and societal participation of mobility impaired people. The project focuses on providing a solution for the access-rights management in the context of the Blue Badge schema and on the other hand, to use the data sets available in the city (public transport, accessibility information, parking places) to provide a powerful tool to be used by mobility impaired citizens.
The development of the SIMON system has included a preparation phase in which the requirements and use cases have been defined, accordingly to the needs identified by all stakeholders: citizens, public authorities and transport operators. This phase has also included the definition of the architecture principles and the implementation of services and applications. The second phase has consisted in a small scale pilot, testing reliability and robustness of the system with a reduced group of users. The project is currently in its final year, in which the large scale demonstration is taking place. The system has been deployed in four pilot sites: Madrid (Spain), Lisbon (Portugal), Parma (Italy) and Reading (UK), and a large group of users have been recruited for the demonstrations. Finally, the deployment phase at the end of the project will include a roadmap for a larger deployment of the SIMON system in any European city, as well as the proposal of a new model of ICT-enhanced European Parking Badge for the disabled.
SIMON proposes a mobile application, SIMON Mobile app, to support impaired citizens. It provides specific information and navigation functionalities in their daily mobility and makes use of e-id mechanisms to reduce the existing fraud in the use of the disabled badge. In this context, SIMON enhances the EU parking card with NFC technology and integrates mobile solutions to support user unique identifications in the system whilst preserving privacy.
The services deployed in SIMON support access-right management for parking areas and public transport; navigation and mobility assistance; location and guiding to disabled reserved parking spots and information on the status of the parking spaces; and management of urban restricted areas of the city to grant the access to users with reduced mobility.
These services feed not only the application for the citizens, but also an app for parking controllers, SIMON Controls, used for validating the correct use –or detect misuse- of reserved spots. The Authority Operator tool is a web- based application that allows the public authority to manage the Blue Badge schema and the operation interaction with SIMON. This includes the registration, deregistration and management of security identity tokens of citizens, as well as getting information about the whole system and statistics of user activities. The Authority Operator is a powerful tool allowing policy makers to get the most valuable information to enhance to mobility of the disabled users.
SIMON builds on existing mobility services, using the current infrastructure of the cities, adding the required integration work to provide a seamless services integration layer which can be instantiated in different cities. From an ICT point of view, SIMON services will be adaptable to heterogeneous environment, with different capabilities. Smart park meters, as those which are part of the Regulated Parking System in Madrid, or control access systems based on plate recognition, as those existing in Madrid and Parma, are integrated in the SIMON architecture to perform citizen validations.
This paper will present an overall description of the system, but will focus mainly in the large scale demonstrations and in the preliminary evaluation of results. The final evaluation is foreseen by the end of 2016.
Association for European Transport