Development of a Mobile Navigation Smartphone Application for Seniors in Urban Areas
Principal Investigator: Kelvin Cheu
Research Area 1: Urban Mobility and Connected Citizens
Many seniors face mobility issues and lifestyle changes, such as switching from driving to using a carpool, taxi or fixed-route or demand-responsive public transportation. While there are many navigation apps on the market, very few cater to the specific mobility needs of seniors (such as incorporating information on ADA compliant infrastructure), and the few that exist have limited functions.
This project aims to understand the lifestyle and mobility needs of seniors and to develop a prototype smartphone smart mobility application that caters to those needs.
The researchers worked with the City of El Paso to conduct surveys at senior centers in the city to learn what features and functionality are most important to the app’s potential users. The survey’s results showed that respondents want driving navigation functions, with options to choose routes based on their main concerns, such as avoiding traffic congestion or parking availability.
The findings from this survey will be used to design and develop an app. The prototype will undergo pilot testing in El Paso and New York, and feedback from testers will be used to improve the app’s functionality.
The main deliverable for this project is a smartphone navigation app that addresses the specific mobility needs and priorities of seniors, improving their ability to travel around their cities. Once a prototype has been developed, the researchers will recruit seniors to test the app for a few weeks, then gather their feedback.
In order to find out what features would be most useful to their target user group, the researchers conducted a survey of more than 450 seniors in El Paso. The survey covered demographic information, lifestyle factors, and transportation habits and needs.
Key Survey Findings
The UTEP team has made numerous efforts to reach out to their target user group, both to gather data that informed the design of the Urban Connector app and to publicize the app and its features.
Youtube videos and a flyer shared with the City of El Paso Parks and Recreation department were used to publicize the results of UTEP’s survey and increase awareness of the project. Both were produced in both English and Spanish.
Publicizing the App
Dr. Gina Nuñez, associate professor of anthropology at UTEP and project team member, appeared with David Lopez from the City of El Paso Parks and Recreation Department on the El Paso Community College Television Channel to discuss the app.
The UTEP team launched a Youtube channel and produced a video that explains the functions of the Urban Connector app, available in both English and Spanish.
Raul Alejandro Vargas Acosta
|Principal Investigator||Kelvin Cheu (UTEP)|
|Co-Principal Investigator||Natalia Villanueva-Rosales (UTEP), Joseph Chow (NYU)|
|Funding Source|| C2SMART: $140,000
University of Texas at El Paso (cost-match): $70,000
|Total Project Cost||$210,000|
|USDOT Award #||69A3551747124|
|Start and End Dates||3/1/2017 – 5/31/2019|
|Implementation of Research Outcomes||
|Impacts/Benefits of Implementation||