Portsmouth Council has launched a new app to help people with reduced mobility plan accessible travel routes around the city.
The Route4U app is a pavement navigation app and information system which will aim to benefit wheelchair-users, allowing them to identify safer and easier routes across Portsmouth.
Portsmouth is the first city in the UK to introduce the new technology, which is being launched following a successful pilot scheme.
Route4U, which is available on Apple and Android, was commissioned by Portsmouth City Council. The developers have worked closely with the council to map out the city’s pathways.
Users can easily plan their journey using a route map and navigation system. The app also indicates pavement obstacles, surface quality, kerb heights, widths, inclines, and travel distances.
It provides route planning and turn-by-turn navigation for wheelchair users, and can be customised to each person’s own abilities.
Pam Turton, assistant director of transport at Portsmouth City Council, said: “I’m delighted that we can support people with reduced mobility by introducing Route4U to the city. This new technology will have many benefits for people who visit, work and live here.
“The app is aimed to give people more confidence to undertake journeys by providing detailed information about the environments that they will encounter.
“I hope that this free app will give people the confidence to travel more independently and enjoy saving money by being less reliant on their cars for short distances.”
Volunteers, including members of Portsmouth Disability Forum, have been travelling the city to inform the developers about pavement conditions and potential obstacles. Obstacles can be reported via the app, which includes a handy auto-survey function.
Sharon Smithson, chairperson of Portsmouth Disability Forum, said: “I’m extremely excited about the launch of the new Route4U app. As a wheelchair user, I and other forum members have experienced frustrating barriers, particularly with pavement obstacles and widths.
“Backtracking and finding alternative routes can take double the time of a normal journey. The app should establish a positive way for individuals with disabilities to travel around more accessibly, making the whole journey a better experience.”
Tamas Szekely, chief marketing officer of Route4U, said: “The infrastructure in Portsmouth is surprisingly well-built compared with other European cities, but temporary obstacles and pavement defects which develop over time are simply unavoidable.
“The app provides a really quick and convenient way to identify potential hazards on the footpath with users being able to upload a report in less than 30 seconds.”
The system can also help the council’s transport planners to better design, maintain and improve pavement accessibility. Using the analysis and decision support tool, council officers can access information about the most problematic bottlenecks, enabling them to prioritise pavement maintenance work.