'Balsas' | Naujasis knygnešys

'Balsas'

Autorius: JSC Kauno autobusai
Kategorija: Gyvenvietės ir urbanizacija

In late 2018, having worked on several prototype versions, the Kaunas city public transport bus launched the ‘KVT Voice’ app (Kaunas Public Transport ‘Voice’) for blind and visually impaired persons. By downloading the free app "KVT Voice" available on the Google Play store, blind and visually impaired passengers waiting at any bus stop will know what vehicle is arriving and which route and destination it is taking. The app is also currently available with English as an optional second language for users, making public transport more accessible for foreign visitors and travellers to the city. It is the first such device in Lithuania, and the inventor believes it may also be the first such mobile application internationally to provide an innovative interactive audio solution in real time to inform on the arrival of public transport vehicles at bus stops.
Kur galima rasti sprendimą: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.kvt.voice.app&hl=en_US

Sprendimo technologinis pagrindas: Beacon Technology

Sprendimo paskirtis

The inspiration for the idea, according to Paulius Lengvenis (inventor, developer, and IT Manager at Kaunas Bus Company) came from a meeting he attended with Heads of Divisions and city council members at which the Vice Mayor expressed a wish to do something to substantially improve access to services for blind and visually impaired people. “About this time, I was aware of the potential of beacon technology being used in retail, so I thought, ‘Why not use the same technology to solve this problem", he said.

The main principle behind the device is relatively simple, allowing the real time information on routes to connect with all Kaunas public transport vehicles – 245 diesel buses and 140 trolley buses. Each public transport vehicle is fitted with a small, wallet-size beacon active tag, which in turn sends the information to the user's phone. Standing at the stop, the user’s mobile phone will ‘speak’, telling of the next arriving bus and stating its number and its route destination. Once on board, all buses already have audio announcements of the next stop, so route management for blind and visually impaired is made easier with this added service.

Using Bluetooth 4 Low Energy (BLE) technology, widely used in mobile devices, installation was straight forward, and with relatively low costs. Installation for all public transport vehicles worked out to be approximately €40,000 EUR with an additional amount of approximately €20,000 for development costs of the app. Currently 100 bus stops have beacon technology fitted, with another 100 due before the end of 2019.

Further uses of the app for public transport may include bus stop and journey experience monitoring, allowing passengers to provide instant feedback on the condition of bus stops and the interiors and exteriors of vehicles, unruly behaviour of other passengers, and the driver’s driving skills. The potential is there to have a fully active engagement with users of public transport services.

Sprendimo nauda ir patrauklumas

Empowerment: The Kaunas Centre for Blind and Visually Impaired lists around 700 members. They have long been asking the city to provide improved public transport services that specifically cater for their needs. Members from the centre tested the app and provided user feedback to the technical team, with suggestions on how to improve it.

Bus stop beacons will allow the city transport team to work closely with other city departments to provide more focused information about the interchange opportunities for passengers breaking their journey.

However, there is by far a greater, and wider potential for this technology to be used not only for public transport services, but also to promote the city’s cultural and commercial attractions. The potential for Kaunas means that bus stops could provide information to potential shopping customers and tourists within a 50 metre range to provide them with event, product, and price information for attractions in close proximity to the bus stop. Museums, art galleries, theatres, cinemas, shops, cafes, and public exhibitions to name but a few of the many city based cultural and commercial opportunities to increase customer interest in what’s going on in the city.

The app can also be used by regular passengers as a hand-held real time passenger information display where placing such display could not be cost efficient option.
With the city planning already for its status of EU Capital of Culture in 2022, this technology has an enormous amount of potential to help the city grow and develop according to the needs and wishes of its citizens.

The system since Dec 2018 has been taken up by the city of Šiauliai.

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