Intelligent Transport Systems: Planning for a smart Auckland

Picture of a bus stop and bus shelter and footpathHow can you avoid digging up a new footpath to lay a conduit or cable? Answer? Better long term planning.

In his “Auckland Conversations” presentation, Roger Jones, Chief Technology Officer at Auckland Transport, talks about how he is leading the implementation of a digital approach within the organisation and preparing a new technology strategy for Auckland’s transport system.

While the presentation does not specifically mention universal design, there are elements of design thinking that will be advantageous to a diverse population. One of the issues Roger talks about is how they have to think at least 10 years in the future. For example, nothingBus driver helps woman with her wheelie walker annoys residents and visitors more than having a newly paved street dug up a year later because someone forgot to lay a conduit during construction.
Real time information and wider use of CCTV will be the key to our transport futures in both the construction of infrastructure and improved customer experiences. This video is 30 minutes long and will be of interest to transport planners, local government IT and database professionals.

Roger Jones is the Chief Technology Officer at Auckland Transport, where he is currently leading the implementation of a digital approach within the organisation and preparing a new technology strategy, which incorporates digital, ITS and traditional IT. Roger has been active in the implementation of Smart City technologies within Auckland Transport (AT), and as a result, AT has been included as part of Microsoft’s Smart Cities programme and is also one of Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s strategic partners for Smart Cities. 


Award winning wayfinding design

Deborah Abidakun, recently won an RSA Student Design Award for her wayfinding system design. As a person who is just below average height she found herself on tiptoe trying to understand 3D graphics and at night the lack of lighting made reading difficult. So Deborah started to wonder how others found these signs. This led her to carry out research around the existing pedestrian wayfinding system. Deborah’s winning design was based on enhancing the Transport for London system. Find out more by going to the article – the illustration below has two more screens that help with the explanation.a prototype accessible wayfinding post and panel


Able to Fly: Boeing gets going

front cover of handbook of anthropology for businessOne of the first centres for universal design was set up in Japan, so it is no real surprise that Japan Airlines is pushing Boeing to re-think aircraft and air travel design especially as they not only employ many older workers, they also want to appeal to the older traveller. Anthropologist Kenneth C Erickson writes a very interesting chapter on this in Handbook of Anthropology in Business, which is available from Google books. He covers the whole travel experience from a user perspective using ethnographic techniques. It seems that Boeing, in trying to make the flight experience more convenient, might be adopting universal design principles without perhaps realising it. Here is an an excerpt from the latter part of the text:

“Boeing knows how important it is to see where you are, where you are going, and what things look like outside the airplane window. They’ve reconfigured the interior of the new Dreamliner so that windows are … roughly eye-level. The carbon-fiber fuselage allows greater structural strength and affords bigger windows, while light-sensitive glass obviates the need for those window shades that used to be difficult for passengers to manage […] And although we think of Boeing as making only the airplane, they also make jet-bridges and some of the display technology that shows seat availability for passengers waiting at the gate. This is evidence that Boeing already knows that air travel does not begin when passengers enter the plane; it is not inconceivable that they may broaden their view of travel further and include the entire process of baggage handling, making it, too, more transparent. […] And the work of flight attendants on the ground and in the air … can be made visible and appreciated, so they in turn may see and appreciate those whose bodies – and luggage – they care for. That’s where universal design fosters a good kind of globalization: through it we recognize our common, traveling humanity, and the difference between the temporarily able-bodied and the other dissolves, for a time, into thin air.”

The title of the chapter is, Able to Fly: Temporality, Visibility & the Disabled Airline Passenger, in Handbook of Anthropology in Business, 2016

Public wayfinding “in-the-wild” study

Picture of railway station and successive dynamic signs at each platform entrancePublic displays are becoming more sophisticated, animated and dynamic, but are not often used for wayfinding. Three architecture researchers from University of Leuven in Belgium conducted an “in-the-wild” study at a railway station to test various display designs to see which would give the best wayfinding information.

The method and results are carefully documented with some interesting findings and conclusions. Graphics, charts and photographs add to the explanations and considerations for designers in the use of symbols, colours and spatial distributions.

Perhaps not surprisingly, they discovered that different people have different ways of seeing, using, and interpreting signage and wayfinding cues.

The study by Coenen, Wouters, and Vande Moere is Synchronized Wayfinding on Multiple Consecutively Situated Public Displays.

Also available from the Research Gate site.

Curitiba Bus System: Good planning in action

Picture shows a bus offloading passengers at a raised tube shaped bus stop. The floor of the bus stop is level with the entry to the busThirty years ago, Curitiba’s forward-thinking and cost-conscious planners integrated public transportation into all the other elements of the urban planning system. They initiated a system that focused on meeting the transportation needs of all people. Consequently they claim to have a system that is both efficient and accessible.

While the tube shaped bus shelters seem a little cumbersome being raised up to be level with the bus entry, they shelter travellers from the weather and create a relatively level entry to and from the bus. They also claim that time spent at each stop is less than 30 seconds. Read more about the planning of this rapid transport system in southern Brazil. It should be noted that this is not common practice in other parts of Brazil. See this paper for the other side of the story and for a case study on the accessibility (or otherwise) of a local hospital.

Picture shows a person in a manual wheelchair entering onto the short yellow ramp into the bus from the tube shaped bus shelter

Woman with a baby stroller using the platform lift to get onto the raised bus stop platform .The bus stop is a tube shaped shelter

Photos of Perth transportation

perthrail_mapTrain and bus access is a lot easier in Perth than Sydney. I liked the level, no gap entry to the train carriages and the wayfinding signage. Here are some pics I took while in Perth for the 2015 National Housing Conference.

Jane Bringolf, Editor

Achieving full participation through UD

Achieving participation thru UD front coverThis European report sets the scene for promoting universal design and setting an action plan in motion. Universal design is viewed as a strategy to ensure equal and democratic rights in society for all individuals. It covers participation in: political and public life; cultural life; information and communication; education; employment; the built environment; transport; community living; legal protection; research and development; and awareness raising. Examples of good practice are also included. It links well with the eight domains of life outlined in the WHO Age Friendly Cities and Communities program.

Universal Design and Visitability: from Accessibility to Zoning

universal design and visitability front coverThis publication contains a chapter on page 97 by Olav Bringa. His work is the forerunner to the landmark document “Norway Universally Designed by 2025“.  It gives an overview of the change processes needed to bring about a change in attitude from inclusion being a “social services job” to “everyone’s job”.  Other chapters cover different areas. Although it was published in 2007, most topics are still current due to the slow movement on the issues. Included within the 9 chapters are: The Seven Principles of Universal Design in Planning Practice; Universal Design in Transportation; and Inclusive Housing and Neighbourhood Design.