Transportation Data Equity Initiative, Phases 2 and 3

Detailed, accurate data about pedestrian spaces, travel environments, and travel services are crucial for trip planners, trip concierges, and mobile wayfinding applications—particularly those that serve the needs of people with disabilities, older adults, and rural populations. However, the necessary data are not collected, stored in standardized formats, or published in ways that navigation apps can access. This project is addressing travel inequities by developing a national pipeline of data intended to help all people navigate sidewalks and transit stations more easily. The project will also extend the national data standards for on-demand transit services (GTFS-Flex), which are used extensively by people with disabilities, for pedestrian paths (OpenSidwalks), and for the mapping of multi-level transit stations (GTFS-Pathways). The project will demonstrate the use of those data and standards in three applications: a multi-modal, accessible travel planner (an extension of AccessMap); Microsoft’s Soundscape application, which helps blind and low-vision people navigate the environment; and an auditory tool called Audium intended to help low-vision individuals navigate transit centers. The project will be deployed in six counties: two each in Maryland, Oregon, and Washington state.  In Phase 1 the researchers finalized the plans for building the necessary data infrastructure and developing or improving the software needed for the mobility applications. In phases 2 and 3, they will generate the necessary data, extend the data standards, and build/extend the applications. Field tests will be conducted in years 4 and 5. This contribution to a “new mobility ecosystem” will allow more people to access more destinations on foot and with transit than ever before.

Transportation Data Equity website

Principal Investigators:
Anat Caspi, Computer Science and Engineering, UW
Mark E. Hallenbeck, Washington State Transportation Center, UW

Sponsor: USDOT

Team members:
Cambridge Systematics
City of Bellevue
Gaussian Solutions
Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute
Studio Pacifica
XR Navigation

Participating organizations:
Washington State Department of Transportation
Oregon Department of Transportation
Maryland Department of Transportation

Scheduled completion: December 2025