Ph.D Thesis

Ph.D StudentCohen Achituv
SubjectEvaluating Accessibility of Urban Spaces for Visually
Impaired Pedestrians
DepartmentDepartment of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Supervisors DR. Sagi Dalyot
ARCHITECT Asia Netapov
Full Thesis textFull thesis text - English Version


As part of the great advances in ubiquitous information technologies, our urban environment is augmented with various types of smart sensors to improve the daily lives of its residents, some are focused on improving urban mobility. For better urban planning, various metrics are used to measure how transportable the city is. In practice, these measures seem to neglect a huge part of the population that have mobility limitations, hence preventing them to be an equal part of the smart city vision. My research focuses on understanding how visually impaired pedestrians navigate the urban space, aiming to use various geospatial data sources to generate an accessibility index designed for this community, thus ensuring the smart city is inclusive. The accessibility index takes under consideration various environmental, morphological, and temporal factors computed from the urban form and its characteristics. For evaluation, the research uses OpenStreetMap, GIS and various sensor network data (namely, Bluetooth and laser), developing machine learning and data mining algorithms, to build modified visually impaired pedestrian walkability networks and graphs. The proposed accessibility index is generated for different wards and boroughs in Greater London. Results show the various accessibility levels for visually impaired pedestrians in these areas, pointing to the existing problems this community faces today when navigating the city, e.g., challenging road network connectivity and dangerous walking areas. This index can be used for better city planning and design, enhancing the city mobility and walkability equality and improve this community quality of life. This innovative research realizes current technological advances from the fields of geoinformation and computer science to create new ideas regarding our built environment, which in turn show strong social contribution to disabled communities within our society.