Improving transport accessibility with mobile scanning technology

The organization of the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris has raised difficulties in accessing Parisian transport for people with reduced mobility. In the French capital, only 13 metro stations, except those on line 14, are accessible to people with reduced mobility. And at the global level, many large global cities are still lagging behind. Even if assistance services have been set up in train stations and airports, traveling by public transport can quickly turn into an obstacle course for people with reduced mobility. World Mobility and Accessibility Day, which takes place every year on April 30, aims to raise awareness and promote transport solutions that are inclusive and accessible to all. Innovative solutions and good practices in terms of accessibility are now well identified, and mobile scanning technology can support their implementation.

Some Facts

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1.5 billion people, or 1 in 6 people, have a significant disability. In France, according to the INSEE, nearly 850,000 people in France have a motor disability, or around 1.5% of the adult population. Improving accessibility is today a real issue of inclusion and equal rights for people with disabilities.

Laws exist... but it is a struggle to apply them

Around the world, specific laws or regulations aim to guarantee the accessibility of public transport to people with reduced mobility.

  • In the United States, the primary accessibility law is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, which requires public transportation companies to provide accessible services to people with disabilities, including buses and trains equipped with access ramps, elevators in metro stations, audio and visual information for visually or hearing impaired passengers, etc.

  • In the European Union, European Directive 2012/34/EU on the interoperability of the European railway system requires member states to ensure that railways are accessible to people with disabilities and reduced mobility. Additionally, the European Directive on rail passenger rights (Directive 2016/2370) also guarantees specific rights to passengers with disabilities and reduced mobility.

  • In France, the law for equal rights and opportunities, participation and citizenship of disabled people of 2005 (law no. 2005-102) as well as the mobility orientation law (LOM) of 2019 impose obligations specific in terms of transport accessibility for disabled people.

However, despite the notable progress made in many countries, many challenges persist. Governments and transport operators are faced with various obstacles (financial constraints, technical or structural obstacles, complexity of the transport system, resistance to change, etc.) which slow down compliance with the law, to the great regret of organization for rights defense. If the Singapore metro is a model of accessibility, older metros like the ones of New York or Paris still have a lot of work to do.

Collaborative platforms and applications like list places accessible to people in wheelchairs.

And in Europe, the European Commission rewards each year with the Access City Award, cities that have given priority to accessibility for people with disabilities. In 2024, the Spanish town of San Cristóbal de La Laguna won.

Currently available solutions

To make public transport accessible to people with reduced mobility, several solutions can be considered to guarantee optimal accessibility. Below are some of the most commonly used solutions.

• Installation of access ramps

Access ramps allow people in wheelchairs, the elderly and anyone with mobility difficulties to overcome obstacles such as steps at the entrance to buses, trains or metro stations. To put them in place, it is first necessary to identify them and measure the available spaces precisely. A mobile scanner like the MS-96 Viametris is particularly effective here for scanning all types of stairs, whatever the configuration, day or night.

• Installation of elevators or lifts

Elevators or lifts make it easier for people with reduced mobility to access subway platforms, train platforms, and other elevated areas at transit stations. Again here, thanks to its proprietary SLAM algorithms developed over more than 15 years, the MS-96 has the necessary robustness required for the preliminary measurement necessary for the implementation of this equipment in these high traffic areas.

• Development of parking bays

The development of parking platforms makes it possible to create spaces reserved for disabled people near bus stops, metro stations or railway stations to facilitate their access to public transport. For all these outdoor spots, the MS-96 allows measurement work to be carried out and referenced in any coordinate system with centimeter precision thanks to its multi-constellation GNSS antenna and receiver.

Mobile scanning, a technology to make spaces accessibility-compliant

The use of mobile scanning technology such as that of the MS-96 Viametris will provide architects and town planners with a modular, fast and efficient solution for bringing places and spaces into conformity.

> Urban planning and public space design: By providing detailed data on the urban environment, the MS-96 can help city planners and development managers design more accessible public infrastructure, such as widened sidewalks, ramps access, secure pedestrian crossings, etc.

> Analysis of obstacles and accessibility points: By accurately mapping the characteristics of the urban environment, the MS-96 can help identify potential obstacles for people with reduced mobility, such as stairs, raised curbs, poor roads, etc. This allows decision-makers to prioritize accessibility efforts where they are most needed.

> Monitoring Accessibility Work: When accessibility work is undertaken, the MS-96 can be used to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of these initiatives by mapping changes on the ground. This helps ensure that the improvements made meet the required accessibility standards.

> Accessible route planning: By combining the data collected by the MS-96 with information about existing accessible routes, it is possible to create route planning tools that take into account the specific needs of people with reduced mobility, such as as the avoidance of obstacles and the preference for accessible paths.>

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