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Aurecon sponsors app to improve accessibility in Singapore CBD

While used to help improve accessibility for the disabled, Aurecon

Aurecon sponsored its Field Force App for the CBD Accessibility Mapping to people with disabilities in Singapore.

20 August 2019 – Most people can easily navigate around minor inconveniences like a curbed sidewalk, construction detours or badly located amenities. However, for people with disabilities, these can be challenging barriers that impede mobility and participation in society.

The Central Business District (CBD) Accessibility Project aims to promote greater diversity and inclusion in the Singapore workplace. Launched by the Disabled People’s Association (DPA) in April 2019, the project documents accessibility obstacles for persons with disabilities and educates the public on the importance of inclusive infrastructure.

To support this project, Aurecon sponsored its Field Force App for the CBD Accessibility Mapping Day on 10 July 2019.

Laying the groundwork for the CBD Accessibility Mapping Day

Beginning in April 2019 and spanning the course of six weeks, 25 Singapore Polytechnic students mapped barrier-free routes in the CBD for people with disabilities, focusing on the area around Raffles Place MRT station. Students also interviewed more than 100 individuals working in the area, including people with disabilities to understand the challenges of navigating from building to building.

To supplement this data, the DPA conducted a Mass “CBD Accessibility Mapping Day Event” in July 2019. Volunteers from participating organisations collaborated with Singapore Polytechnic students and Inclusion Ambassadors from the DPA to record accessibility issues in the CBD, while learning more about the daily challenges faced by people with disabilities.

“One of the key challenges we faced was how to record and compile the many accessibility barriers in the CBD,” said Richard Kuppusamy, president of the DPA. “We needed a user friendly digital solution and reached out to our partners at Aurecon, who sponsored the Field Force App for our public mapping event.”

Digital tools to empower

Aurecon reconfigured its Field Force app, a data collection platform, to allow participants to capture images and notes of obstacles within the surrounding area, while pinpointing them accurately using GPS data. The information will help the team identify potential concerns for people with visual, audial, intellectual, physical or psychosocial impairments.

“We were honoured that our Field Force app played a key role and made it easier to capture over 500 accessibility issues in the CBD area in just 90 minutes,” said Phil Lazarus, Digital Practice Leader at Aurecon in Asia. “Even when there were multiple logs of the same issue, the app’s geo-capture function can gather each volunteer’s unique perspective and help the team identify the core accessibility challenge.”

Aurecon originally developed the Field Force app as a digital solution for rail network operators to capture and house site information and photographs in a central location.

Making CBD more accessible for people with disabilities

As one of the busiest Singapore areas, the CBD welcomes hundreds of thousands of workers each day. In recent years, Singapore’s government has encouraged employers to hire a more diverse workforce, including people with disabilities, who make up 0.55% of the resident labour force.

During the Accessibility Mapping project, students found several obstacles for people with disabilities, including:

  • Many road crossings without dropped curbs for wheelchair users to get safely from the pavement to the road
  • An absence of controlled crossings in several areas, presenting a safety concern for those with visual impairments
  • A lack of access via lift to the MRT later in the evenings, as the lift stops operating before the last train service
  • A reduction in accessible entrances and exits to Raffles Place MRT from Chevron House because of construction
  • A lack of covered accessible routes for people with disabilities, limiting their ability to get around during inclement weather conditions, especially wheelchair users who are unable to hold an umbrella while pushing their mobility aid.

Richard Kuppusamy (who is a wheelchair user himself) said people in the disability community have additional factors to consider when selecting a job, for example, whether the employer’s office is physically accessible or whether it’s easy to navigate to nearby eateries.

“Getting in the front door is one thing but you know, it’s things like, is there an accessible toilet in the office building? People are a bit embarrassed to ask, but these are basic necessities we cannot take for granted.”

The CBD Accessibility Project is a partnership between Aurecon, Singapore Polytechnic students, the Disabled People’s Association (DPA), Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority, Lendlease Foundation, DP Architects, BNP Paribas, and Keppel REIT. The initiative also has government stakeholders, with Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development, and Second Minister for National Development, in attendance at the CBD Accessibility Mapping Day and expressing his support.

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