By Regina Cohen, Architect, G3ict-Smart Cities for All Country Representative for Brazil

Sidewalks are important elements of resilient, accessible to all, and sustainable cities. “AI for Inclusive Urban Sidewalks” is a project employing datasets and tools to overcome the challenges for mobility, accessibility and independent living experienced by persons with disabilities or reduced mobility in five different cities in Americas.

This project is part of a cooperation between Municipal Secretariat of Persons with Disability (SMPED) and Municipal Secretariat of Mobility and Transit (SMT) of the City of São Paulo (SP), the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ict), and Taskar Center for Accessible Technology (TCAT) of the University of Washington, supported by Microsoft through its AI for Accessibility program.
While building a Smart City in SP today, we must take into consideration whether the sidewalks can be used by vulnerable citizens. To increase the walkability of the city the tool is developed, which adapts to every need: of a wheelchair user, a blind person, a person with other disabilities. This tool will help all of them to build the most convenient route.

At first, our team has chosen five areas for mapping considering the number of pedestrians, concentration of hospitals, schools, universities, and public transport. But at the end of the day, we’ve focused on only two areas - Lapa and Vila Mariana. Our group consists of university students, representatives of civil society organizations, architects, accessibility specialists, and others. We are mapping and reviewing crossings and sidewalks, including ramps, crossing signs, inclination of streets and barriers in the routes. All the information submitted to the OpenStreetMap online application.

For this project, we use online tools, create partnerships with academia, industry, and civil society, employ datasets. I believe that only sharing all the acquired knowledge and our results we can ensure smart city development, working with what a human being has as fundamental – the subjective and emotional side of the development of the activities of their daily life in vibrant spaces.
As the G3ict Country Representative for Brazil, to spread the word I’ve talked about this pilot project of Artificial Intelligence for Inclusive Urban Sidewalks in SP, where we are mapping sidewalks to improve the mobility and walkability, which generates interest of professionals from different technical areas. The tool creates routes for pedestrians, based on their needs. It has a good potential for Public Politics to ensure greater universal accessibility for all. Persons with disability are usually excluded from the urban environment and development, including in the megapolis of São Paulo. This innovative pilot project will help to improve quality of life and overall wellbeing.

I’m very proud and happy to be part of this promising change in urban mobility in my home country of Brazil.