Zig Mapping: Building a mobile map for people with disabilities

Fri, 20 Dec 2013 at 14:36
Photo of Zig web application on iPad

Have you ever arrived at a building on campus, only to have to circle around to find the accessible entrance? This is a very common experience for wheelchair users. Although the campus has a long history of accessible construction, finding a fully accessible path can still be a challenge. Up to now this has largely been a process of individual trial and error. Our goal is to give people a way to share their accessible travel discoveries.

UCLA’s Office of Information Technology (Disabilities and Computing Program + GIS Research Group) proposes to build a crowd-sourced campus map that will empower people with disabilities to share and access relevant information that will aid them in getting in and around campus. The Zig Map is a spatial data bank of critical information markers - locationally tagged resources that will include not only simple tags, but also detailed descriptions about them. The project intends to provide the general public with location data on ramps, entrances, stairs, routes and hazards. It will also allow the community to add their own markers with useful hints that help the disability community "zig" around campus with greater ease.

In 2011, CSU Northridge rolled out technology that enabled navigation with Sendero GPS devices targeted for users who are blind. The CSU Northridge project included location based navigation and narratives that pointed out entrances, landmarks, and other facets of spatial information to blind and visually impaired users. While the UCLA team has been inspired by the CSU Northridge project, the key difference between the projects is our intention to make such an application available on mobile devices, rather than GPS devices, to expand the service to include other groups with other mobility-related disabilities, and to provide crowd source data for the community by the community.

This project is sponsored by the Chancellor’s Office and the Healthy Campus Initiative. The projected completion date and launching of the Beta version of the app is April 2014.

For additional questions, please contact Yoh Kawano (yohman@ucla.edu) and Patrick Burke (burke@ucla.edu).