SBS Transit And UK's Waymap Launch Asia-Pacific's First-Of-Its-Kind Wayfinding App To Help The Visually Impaired Travel With Confidence
For 26-year-old Mr Josh Tseng, living with vision impairment can make it difficult and uncomfortable to travel to new places alone, especially when taking public transport. He would have to rely on a friend or the kindness of a stranger to guide him to his destination.
Recognising the challenges that commuters with visual impairment may face when travelling, SBS Transit has collaborated with Waymap to introduce the Singapore version of the free-to-use, audio-based wayfinding app. The app - Waymap-SG - is designed to help the visually impaired navigate bus interchanges and MRT stations independently and safely. Waymap-SG is a first-of-its-kind navigation app for the visually impaired in the Asia-Pacific region.
Waymap-SG works by pre-mapping facilities such as the boarding/alighting berths, train concourse/platform, escalators, lifts, shops and even toilets. Users can use the app to generate turn-by-turn instructions with audio cues to get to their destinations. The app works for both indoor and outdoor locations, is accurate up to one metre, and relies on phone sensors for navigation. What sets this app apart is its ability to function without the need for GPS, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth signals, and it continually calibrates itself to match the user's walking gait and speed. This not only ensures a personalised experience but also a safe one.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed today between SBS Transit and Waymap to co-create innovative smartphone navigation solutions for a more inclusive and accessible public transportation system. Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment, Mr Baey Yam Keng, witnessed the signing of the MOU and officially launched the Singapore edition of the Waymap app. For a start, the app will be piloted at Tampines Bus Interchange and Downtown Line Tampines MRT Station.
Together with our community partners, Waymap-SG has the potential to guide the visually impaired to any location in Singapore.
Mr Tseng, also a Board Member of the Executive Committee at the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH), has played a significant role in the development of this app. He said: “Waymap-SG makes it possible to navigate around spaces quickly and safely, particularly for areas that we're not familiar with yet. Waymap-SG is smart and simple. Most importantly, it gives us people with vision impairment the opportunity to venture outside by ourselves. It gives us dignity.”
Guide Dogs Singapore has joined as a pilot user, supporting the initiative in Singapore. Ms Vanessa Loh, General Manager at Guide Dogs Singapore Ltd said: “We are heartened to see the effort that has gone into making travel accessible for Persons with Disabilities. At Guide Dogs Singapore, we teach people with vision loss orientation and mobility skills that includes the use of public transport so that they can commute independently. We look forward to combining the use of Waymap with our training, to enhance wayfinding and mobility for our clients.”
SBS Transit Group CEO, Mr Jeffrey Sim, said: “At SBS Transit, we are committed to making public transport and community spaces more inclusive and accessible. Through the Waymap-SG app, we aim to empower commuters to travel confidently on our public transport network.
We also welcome and encourage community partners to join us in this initiative by integrating their facilities into Waymap-SG, as we move towards creating a more inclusive society.”
Waymap-SG is available to download for free on the Singapore iOS App Store and Google Play Store.