D1.2 An App for Locational Intelligence and Geospatial Navigation (ALIGN)

Principal Investigator: Jon A. Sanford, M.Arch.; Subhrajit Guhathakurta, Ph.D.
Project Collaborators: Rebecca Hunter, MEd; CDC-Healthy Aging Network (HAN)

Background & Specific Aims
Adults aging with long term ambulatory disabilities generally use familiar outdoor routes that fit their functional abilities and AT. However, the onset of age-related comorbid functional losses associated with progressive chronic conditions, such as MS, Parkinson’s and ALS, create a new set of environmental challenges that often exceed the abilities of these individuals, even on long-used routes. Despite these challenges, the real barrier to outdoor mobility is the lack of information with which to plan safe and appropriate alternative routes. Building on prior work at CATEA, CGIS and the CDC Healthy Aging Network (CDC-HAN), this project’s aim are to develop and evaluate the feasibility of a mobile app (ALIGN) to inform outdoor route planning by people aging with ambulatory and visual impairments who are experiencing comorbid functional losses.

This project brings together the static (e.g., sidewalk condition, street networks, characteristics of land use) and dynamic (e.g., traffic volumes, weather, and light quality) characteristics of the environment that are monitored close to real time into one decision support system for route planning. These environmental characteristics, or ‘parameters’, were determined based off results from a parameter survey with the intended population. The evidence-based app enhances community mobility by providing up-to-date information about the critical environmental attributes that could affect community mobility and allowing the user to provide information about their own abilities and personal preferences to determine a route that optimizes those preferences.

The first version of the application has been developed and field-tested. Findings indicate that participants found the application to be potentially useful, especially in unfamiliar locations. However, testing also indicated a number of potential problems with the initial prototype. Additional design criteria has informed the next prototype design, including use of consistent audio/visual feedback, simpler directions, and a tutorial. The current version of the application is currently under review at Apple’s app store and is due to be released to the public shortly.

Below you can find the tutorial video for the most recent version of the application.