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Helping the visually impaired to cross roads safely: Hsinchu County launches the first smart voice signal APP
  • PostDate:2021-02-25
  • Modified Date:2021-05-18

the first smart voice signal APP (1).JPG

This time, the Hsinchu County Government is customizing its services for the visually impaired, the elderly and disadvantaged groups by establishing friendly transportation facilities. It has selected the Hsinchu high-speed rail station for installing a smart traffic safety warning system, becoming the first non six special municipalities to build this system. Improvements have been made to a total of 7 locations, of which 4 are pilot sites for the smart voice signal APP system. Today (25th), County Magistrate Yang Wen-ke, Director Liu Hsing-gui of the Hsinchu County Visually Impaired Welfare Association and others visited one of the pilot sites at the intersection of Gaotie 7th Road and Section 2, Wenxing Road to understand the trial situation and how the visually impaired can activate the voice signals with their mobile phone APP in order to safely cross the road.
County Magistrate Yang stated that the county government has designed this friendly traffic signal system platform specifically for the "visually impaired, the elderly and the disadvantaged" to give them a sense of security. At the end of last month, the visually impaired and their families were invited to try out the system, and satisfaction exceeded 90%. Through this project implementation experience, the county government will continue to collaborate with private organizations to provide for the basic medical treatment, schooling and transit needs of the visually impaired. It will continue to build a smart and barrier-free transportation environment in Hsinchu County. If the pilot project proves to be effective, the system will be expanded to other intersections.
Before the early stage of the project implementation, the county government particularly interviewed the Hsinchu County Visually Impaired Welfare Association and orientation and mobility specialists to understand the transportation needs of the visually impaired. Since most of the visually impaired travelers mainly go to public transit stations and medical institutions, pilot sites along the HSR Hsinchu Station, the Hsinchu County Visually Impaired Welfare Association and National Taiwan University Hospital Hsin-Chu Biomedical Park Branch routes were selected, totally 7 locations for improvement. In addition to installing smart voice signals in 4 of the locations, the pedestrian crossings at each location also had tactile markings added for the first time to help visually impaired pedestrians stay within the crosswalk when crossing an intersection, thus effectively guiding the visually impaired to cross the road.
The Transportation and Tourism Department indicated that it is not easy for the visually impaired to know the direction of traffic or the number of seconds left on the green light when they are crossing an intersection. Moreover, the visually impaired, the elderly and the disadvantaged are slower in their movement. However, increasing the number of seconds for pedestrian crossing or using pedestrian-only signals may result in traffic congestion. Therefore, to take into account both traffic efficiency and pedestrian safety at the same time, Hsinchu County is promoting the smart and friendly signal system for the first time.
This system differs from traditional audio signals that frequently transmit sounds and disturb the residents. This system allows users to install apps on their mobile phones. When approaching an intersection, the system will automatically sense and activate the traffic signal on the roadside traffic equipment, or the control can be activated by pressing the control button, to extend the number of seconds for crossing. The mobile phone App will also promptly announce the name of the intersection, the number of seconds for crossing in each direction and other information. The roadside speakers will produce different sounds according to the traffic direction of the green light. In addition to providing intersection information to help the visually impaired decide their movement, the sounds also alert other road users to visually impaired people crossing the road.  
In the tactile markings for helping the visually impaired determine their position, the tactile markings are continued from pedestrian sidewalks and are aligned with the tactile tiles on the pedestrian sidewalks. Hence, the Public Works Department is also involved in this voice signal installation project in the 4 intersections by improving the barrier-free slopes of sidewalks and installing tactile marking tapes and tactile tiles for the visually impaired. In this way, the visually impaired can determine their crossing position, thus improving their safety when they cross intersections.