Despite comprehensive civil rights legislation for Americans with disabilities, many city streets, sidewalks, and businesses remain inaccessible. Project Sidewalk, and our network of volunteers, plan to change that. Project Sidewalk is a web-based tool that allows anyone with a web browser and internet connection to contribute sidewalk accessibility information virtually using Google Street View. The data we collect is open and publicly available through our APIs. The data can be used by city governments to prioritize certain places for sidewalk upgrades/repairs. It can and has been used by members of the community to lobby for more funding for sidewalk repairs by the city. Or the data could be used in a number of other ways, including through new pedestrian routing applications!
The long term goal of Project Sidewalk is to use this very large dataset to train computer vision and machine learning algorithms to detect accessibility problems automatically. Collecting accessibility data is expensive for cities and time consuming for volunteers. If this data can be collected automatically, it will free up money in city budgets to actually do the sidewalk repairs.