How the blind led Warsaw to the Internet of Things

1) The problem is an asymmetry of information in cities – between visually disabled residents and other residents, tourists and residents – which eventually makes city life more complicated for some city dwellers than others.

2) The article :

  • The Virtual Warsaw app is a $15 beacon-enabled urban navigation project developed in 2013 by Polish start-up Ifinity and the Warsaw Office for the Disabled
  • The smartphone app was built to help the visually impaired get around municipal offices easily and can call out a person’s queue number on their phone or read out text on municipal signs using Siri or Google Talk
  • Beacons are micro and low energy transmitters that work like a light house and send encoded information on users’ phone via Bluetooth or a radio signal.
  • In September 2014, the project placed as a finalist at the Bloomberg Mayors Challenge organized by Bloomberg Philanthropies Foundation
  • The next step is to provide other urban dwellers with contextual real-time information on public transport, indoor navigation in public buildings, and details of tourist attractions, all based on a user’s location.

3) The stakeholders that will need to use the system are:

  • Ifinity and value-added resellers to develop the app to adapt to other municipal use and maintain existing beacons
  • The City of Warsaw and other cities that might want to adopt the infrastructure to ensure smart living
  • Specific City and State Offices (ex : Tourism, Urban Planning) to identify a user need that can be solved with the app
  • Bluetooth Low Energy to ensure the efficiency and continuity of the beacon-phone transmission and to work on Bluetooth reputation and users perception
  • Any third party responsible for data storage and security

4) I work for the City of Paris Office of Technologies and Innovation

  • Study the risk/opportunity profile of a Virtual Paris project and identify potential benefits for all Parisians – resident, tourists and businesses
  • Partner with a start-up from Paris&Co incubator that will develop a tailor-made micro-localisation app for Paris
  • Contract with Ifinity to install and maintain beacons in Paris’s transportation infrastructure, streets and buildings

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