Towards an Inclusive Urban Environment: A Participatory Approach for Collecting Spatial Accessibility Data in Zurich (Short Paper)

Author Hoda Allahbakhshi

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Hoda Allahbakhshi
  • Digital Society Initiative, University of Zürich, Switzerland
  • Department of Geography, University of Zürich, Switzerland

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Hoda Allahbakhshi. Towards an Inclusive Urban Environment: A Participatory Approach for Collecting Spatial Accessibility Data in Zurich (Short Paper). In 12th International Conference on Geographic Information Science (GIScience 2023). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 277, pp. 13:1-13:6, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2023)


The unprecedented rate of urbanization, along with the increase in the aging and disabled populations, bring about an increasing demand for public services and an inclusive urban environment that allows easy access to those facilities. Spatial Accessibility is a measure to assess how inclusive a city is and how easily public facilities can be reached from a specific location through movement in physical space or built environment. A detailed geodata source of accessibility features is needed for reliable spatial accessibility assessment, such as sidewalk width, surface type, and incline. However, such data are not readily available due to the huge implication costs. Remote crowdsourcing data collection using Street View Imagery, so-called 'virtual audits' have been introduced as a valid, cost-efficient tool for accessibility data enrichment at scales compared to conventional methods because it enables involving more participants, saving more time by avoiding field visits and covering a larger area. Therefore, in our pilot project, ZuriACT: Zurich Accessible CiTy, with the help of digital tools that allow for virtual inspections and measurements of accessibility features, we want to contribute to collecting and enriching accessibility information in the city of Zurich embedded in a citizen science project that will have both scientific and social impacts. With the help of additional accessibility data produced in this project, the issues of an inclusive urban environment can be demonstrated by mapping the potential spatial inequalities in access to public facilities for disabled or restricted people in terms of mobility. Thus, this project provides helpful insight into implementing policy interventions for overcoming accessibility biases to ensure equitable services, particularly for people with disabilities, and contributes to creating an inclusive and sustainable urban environment. It goes without saying that an inclusive city is beneficial and impacts the quality of life of not only the population groups mentioned above but also the society at large.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Social and professional topics
  • Spatial accessibility
  • virtual audits
  • digital tools
  • mobility disability
  • citizen science
  • inclusive city
  • Zurich


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