The Wheelmap is getting a new design and better usability in the browser. It is already available for users in a beta version. The map offers several improvements and more clarity!

Screenshot of the new online map on www.wheelmap.org/beta

Yippee, the new Wheelmap is available! At least the first version: on www.wheelmap.org/beta you can see how the Wheelmap will be improved after the spring makeover.

Of course the IT team has already been busy for quite some time, deleting unnecessary layers in the design and adding new features instead.

MINIMALISTIC DESIGN AND INTERMEDIATE STAGES IN THE TRAFFIC LIGHT SYSTEM

At first glance you can see that the traffic light system in green, yellow and red is still there but that it has new markers in different shapes. This way people who are color blind can distinguish more easily if a place is fully, partly or not accessible for wheelchair users. Even the filter to choose the categories is structured more clearly now. With Mapbox’s background map we wanted to increase clarity and make the map neater.

Two things in particular are new in the design: the future Wheelmap will be clustering places, which means that when zooming out on the map several markers will be clustered together. This can be seen in the small number appearing in the cluster and also in the colors of the clusters: the traffic light system now shows intermediate states in the cluster, so that in places where green and yellow marks are predominant, a yellow-greenish symbol appears. Or a lighter red is shown if it is a mix of places that are partly accessible or inaccessible with a wheelchair.

By zooming out of the map the points are classified in a cluster. Because of that you can see more intermediate color states between yellow, green and red.
 By zooming in, you can see individual points and small clusters.

Altogether, the new design has improved the usability for smartphone users. In the long-term the apps for iOS and Android will probably be replaced by the browser version as well because of the multitude of new features (see below) that will surpass the possibilities of the current apps.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE ACCESSIBILITY IN THE DETAILS AND EXTERNAL SOURCES

By clicking on a place in the Wheelmap beta version, an overview on the left side opens and offers more details of the place (and the marking and editing functions). More detailed information is shown, e.g. information about door width, number of steps and the availability of an automatic door.

This additional information currently comes from other sources like the French project J’accede, the American AXSmapParkopediaHERE mapsFoursquare and other organizations that are also collecting data about accessibility in their communities. With the exchange format which the IT team created in the project Accessibility.Cloud, this can be implemented for the first time.

For every region of the world you can search the name of a place, street name, postal code, towns and combinations.
For some places of external data sources like here from J’accede in Paris, you can find more information, e.g. whether doors are automatic or permanently open.

And there is more: Due to the connection to Projekt Elevate, in some cities in Germany, we can now even show the live status of elevators in public buildings!

Even the current availability status of elevators and escalators, like at the Berlin Ostbahnhof, will be a part of the new Wheelmap, soon.

ADDING AND EDITING PLACES DIRECTLY IN THE OPENSTREEPMAP

For the new Wheelmap we have prioritized and reconsidered the functions to come up with the best solution for the quality of the data in the long-term. This led to the result that Wheelpmap will no longer be a full OpenStreet Map-Editor.

This means that marking places will still be possible on the Wheelmap without the need to register or log in.

In order to edit places or add new ones, users of the future Wheelmap will have to use the ID-Editor OpenStreetMap directly. The reason for this: those two operations work more precisely in the OSM than in the previous Wheelmap interface. In this way we expect a better data quality and a higher level of collaboration that will bring the communities of Wheelmap and OSM closer together.

From the perspective of the product development the advantage is that we will not  be using anymore resources for building a copy of OSM. Instead, we can use the time and money to make Wheelmap better and faster and to develop new features.

FUTURE PROSPECTS: WHAT COMES AFTER BETA

The possibilities that this opens up for Wheelmap become clear in the things we are currently working on or what we are planning for the next phase:

  • The technical environment will be improved further to enable a complete keyboard operation and use with a screen reader, to make it accessible for blind users.
  • The load speed will be optimized.
  • Duplicate information from several sources will be easier to distinguish in the future.
  • More public elevators will be displayed soon.
  • The picture-upload-function will be added and integrated into the design.
  • A supplementary function to subscribe information about specifi elevators is in the planning process.
  • Wheelmap.Pro as a tool to collect data about accessibility via Accessibility Cloud will be connected to the map on Wheelmap.org.

SEND US YOUR FEEDBACK ABOUT BETA!

Did you find a mistake in the functionality or do you have an idea for better usability? Send us an email to beta@wheelmap.org.

Redaktionelle Mitarbeit: Sebastian Felix Zappe
Fotos: Screenshots von Wheelmap.org/beta, 2018