Routing for Accessibility – new Project with City of Heidelberg

Accessibility is a widely discussed topic and there are a growing number of efforts to sensitise European cities and municipalities to the topic. A focus of such efforts is the facilitation of easy access to public places for everyone, including those with walking disabilities, balance and visual disorders, as well as people requiring the use of walking aids, and parents with pushchairs. To date, finding suitable ways through the city is challenging for people whose walking ability is permanently or temporarily limited. This problem affects millions of people in Europe. As the citizens and visitors of Heidelberg also belong to this growing group of people, the City of Heidelberg, HeiGIT/ GIScience Research Group and MatchriderGO are currently working on a project to increase mobility for people whose walking ability is permanently or temporarily limited.

For people with limited walking ability it is (among other things) important to know about streets with sidewalks that are of a certain width, the presence of small inclines, and whether the surface is of a suitable material. To enable crossing at road junctions, dropped kerb information should also be available. The current project “Routing for Accessibility” will enable people with limited mobility to better plan their route through the city using their smartphones and thereby enable them increasing social participation despite their physical constraints.

The smartphone app will facilitate routing based on Openrouteservice (ORS) using OpenStreetMap (OSM) data between a defined start and end point. But in particular specific options and values defined by the users will be taken into account as well, e.g., regarding maximum inclines, sidewalk width and kerb heights. The project will focus on the city center, including 40 kilometers of roads. The focus area includes the world famous old town that is visited by 12 million tourists per year as well as the central railway station.

The project builds on and extends work and insights of the EU funded CAP4Access project of Heidelberg University and other European partners.

Selected earlier Work:

Hahmann, S., Miksch, J., Resch, B., Lauer, J., Zipf, A. (2017): Routing Through Open Spaces – A Performance Comparison Of Algorithms. Geo-Spatial information Science, 2017. Taylor & Francis. Geo-Spatial information Science, 2017. Taylor & Francis.

Zipf, A., Mobasheri, A., Rousell, A. ,Hahmann, S. (2016): Crowdsourcing for individual needs – the case of routing and navigation for mobility-impaired persons. In: Capineri, C, Haklay, M, Huang, H, Antoniou, V, Kettunen, J, Ostermann, F and Purves, R. (eds.) European Handbook of Crowdsourced Geographic Information, p. 325–337. London: Ubiquity Press. DOI:

Mobasheri A., Huang H., Degrossi L.C. and A. Zipf (2018): Enrichment of OpenStreetMap Data Completeness with Sidewalk Geometries Using Data Mining Techniques. Sensors 2018, 18(2), 509; doi:10.3390/s18020509

Rousell A. and Zipf A. (2017): Towards a landmark based pedestrian navigation service using OSM data. International Journal of Geo-Information, ISPRS IJGI, 6(3): 64.

John, S., Hahmann, S., Rousell, A., Loewner, M., Zipf, A. (2016). Deriving incline values for street networks from voluntarily collected GPS traces. Cartography and Geographic Information Science (CaGIS). Taylor & Francis. DOI:10.1080/15230406.2016.1190300

Fan, H., Yang, B., Zipf, A. , Rousell, A. (2015): A polygon-based approach for matching OpenStreetMap road networks with authority data. International Journal of Geographical Information Science (IJGIS), volume and issue pending, pp. pending, Taylor & Francis. DOI:10.1080/13658816.2015.1100732

Neis, A. & Zielstra, D. (2014): Generation of a tailored routing network for disabled people based on collaboratively collected geodata. Applied Geography. Vol. 47, pp. 70–77.

Müller, A., Neis, P. & Zipf, A. (2010): Ein Routenplaner für Rollstuhlfahrer auf der Basis von OpenStreetMap-Daten. Konzeption, Realisierung und Perspektiven. AGIT 2010. Symposium für Angewandte Geoinformatik. Salzburg. Austria.