Please join us Tuesday for the first Change seminar of the new academic
year! We will be in *Johnson Hall* *111 *this quarter.

*Who:* Jon Froehlich, UW CSE
*What:* Project Sidewalk: Mapping the Accessibility of the World through
Google Street View
*When: Tuesday, Oct 9th, 12-1pm*
*Where: **Johnson Hall 111*

*Project Sidewalk: Mapping the Accessibility of the World through Google
Street View*
Digital maps such as Google Maps, Waze, and Yelp have transformed the way
people travel and access information about the physical world. While these
systems contain terabytes of data about road networks and points of
interest (POIs), their information about physical accessibility is
commensurately poor. GIS websites like,, and aim to address this problem by collecting location-based
accessibility information provided by volunteers (i.e., crowdsourcing).
While these efforts are important and commendable, their value propositions
are intrinsically tied to the amount and quality of data they collect. In a
recent review of accessibility-oriented GIS sites, Ding et al. found that
most suffered from serious data sparseness issues. One key limiting factor
is the reliance on local populations with physical experience of a place
for data collection. While local users who report data are likely to be
reliable, the dependence on in situ reporting dramatically limits
scalability—both who can supply data and how much data they can easily

In contrast, we are exploring a different approach embodied in a new
interactive tool called Project Sidewalk (, which
enables online crowdworkers to contribute physical-world accessibility
information by virtually walking through city streets in Google Street View
(GSV)—similar to a first-person video game. Rather than pulling solely from
local populations, our potential pool of users scales to anyone with an
Internet connection and a web browser. In this talk, I will describe the
design of Project Sidewalk and a recent 18-month deployment study in
Washington DC. I will close with a discussion of our current and future
work investigating correlates to urban accessibility, training machine
learning algorithms to automatically assess accessibility, and interactive
tools that create better transparency about accessible infrastructure. Our
overarching goal is to transform how accessibility data is collected and

I received my Phd in Computer Science from the University of Washington in
December 2011 where I was a Microsoft Research Graduate Fellow and the 2010
College of Engineering "Graduate Innovator of the Year." My PhD
dissertation entitled "Sensing and Feedback of Everyday Activities to
Promote Environmental Behaviors" won numerous awards including the 2012
University of Washington Distinguished Dissertation Award and an honorable
mention for the national 2012 Council of Graduate Schools Distinguished
Dissertation Award in Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Engineering.

At UW, I was co-advised by James Landay and Shwetak Patel. I also have an
MS in Information and Computer Science from the University of California,
Irvine where I was advised by Paul Dourish. During my graduate studies, I
was fortunate to intern at a number of great research labs including
Telefonica Research in Barcelona, Microsoft Research in Redmond, and Intel
Research in Seattle.

We will try to get a livestream up for this talk.
change mailing list

Reply via email to