Smart City Wheelchair Challenge

Drawings of a smart city car park showing cars parked vertically in stacks.How to design a smart city that’s inclusive of wheelchair users? That was the challenge for a diverse group of engineers. Their project goal was to create a 3D simulation of a smart city that is sustainable and accessible as well as smart. 

Underpinning their design concepts were the Sustainable Development Goals. These goals have inclusion and universal design at their heart. The team documented their project from the formation of their group through to the final creation. 

Their report shows pictures of their Lego creations, sketches and artist impressions of sites. Smart services are the vision for the future, such as autonomous vehicles and how they will fit into the fabric of our community designs. They also considered smart parking, trains, trash systems and lighting.

This is a very detailed but well-laid out report. It reads more like a story, with plenty to share, including their spin-off into mobile apps. They had planned to do the final presentation using virtual reality, but COVID-19 and a university shut-down cut that short. The title of the 19MB report is, Smart City Simulator: “Phase Two” – The Wheelchair Challenge.  

See also, Smart Cities for All Toolkit

Abstract: Many Smart City infrastructures are physical models or Lego models that are static and difficult to scale. Other existing Smart City concepts have not taken wheelchair users and their needs into account. Oslo Metropolitan University (OsloMet), in cooperation with Oracle, assigned a project which sought to address these issues to a group from the European Project Semester. We are five international students trying to create a 3D- Simulation of a Smart City with Unity software to solve space and mobility problems. The main part of this task was to create a wheelchair accessible Smart City, which can be presented and visualized by a simulation. Right at the beginning of the project, we decided to focus not only on wheelchair users but on all kinds of physical limitations: blindness, deafness, mobility difficulties, old, young, and pregnant women.
We analyzed existing concepts, asked why it is more important than ever to develop Smart City models, and make existing cities smarter. We also looked at what needs to be improved in cities in general, especially to make life easier for people with disabilities. We exchanged ideas with organizations that helped us to learn more about the everyday life of people with disabilities, we also exchanged ideas with companies that are already actively working on making cities smarter and last but not least we looked at the innovations in Oslo that are trying to make this city smarter.
Based on our results and with the help of Proxima Lego City, a Lego model built by Oracle, we made a questionnaire to ask the participants what belongs in a Smart City and what challenges specifically the participants with disabilities have in their everyday life in cities.
After the research, the questionnaire, and the exchange with organizations and companies, we decided to create a Smart City in Universal Design, which is accessible for everyone and can be presented and experienced through a simulation. We implemented an electric autonomous public transport system, a smart trash system, a smart parking system and a smart lighting system.
We also developed an app, especially adapted to our simulation, that makes the simulation appear even more real. With the help of real-time data, the app shows the advantages of a Smart City, and it also shows the advantage of having an app specifically adapted for the Smart City.