By Robin Brooks
A team of data scientists, including Anat Caspi, data science fellow and director of the Taskar Center for Accessible Technology, Nick Bolton, former Data Science for Social Good (DSSG) project lead, ethnographer Anissa Tanweer, and former DSSG Student Fellows Jess Hamilton and Kaicheng Tan, along with collaborators from the eScience Institute, Urban@UW and Sound Transit, have won a Husky Seed Fund Award to develop the UW OpenSidewalks project. The award “brings to life innovative ideas by students that are inclusive, impactful, and inventive to the UW”.
UW OpenSidewalks will gather data on pathways on UW’s Seattle campus to add to OpenStreetMap, an application “built by a community of mappers that contribute and maintain data about roads, trails, cafés, railway stations, and much more, all over the world”. This work will extend the efforts of the DSSG team to add local sidewalks to OpenStreetMap data layers.
The project is particularly timely, as many of the events planned for the Special Olympics USA Games in 2018 will be hosted on the UW Seattle campus. This event is expected to attract about 60,000 visitors from across the United States; it will be the largest sporting event in Seattle since the 1990 Goodwill Games.
From the proposal: “The university is expected to support the events by way of providing a physical plant (including accessible buildings, sidewalks, other infrastructure), accessibility information about navigating the campus (getting from point A to B, both outdoors as well as indoors), and a welcoming community ensuring that the delegations and spectators alike are provided the best possible opportunity to visit our campus in a safe, accessible and comfortable manner.”
The award will be used to help improve campus accessibility by funding equipment, workshops and competitive engagements for the project and the Taskar Center will cover a student salary as well.
To learn more about the project, go to https://www.opensidewalks.com/. Find additional information about the DSSG project here and here on our website, check out the students’ blog, and watch a video featuring Bolton and Caspi on OpenSidewalks on YouTube.