Sunshine Coast Council is partnering with Briometrix and Spinal Life Australia to improve travel accessibility for people with limited mobility, through modern-mapping technology.

Wheelchairs have been turned into mapping tools with specially trained local ‘pilots’ and devices installed to track routes from Maroochydore to Mooloolaba.

Sunshine Coast Council Mayor, Mark Jamieson, said, “Equity and inclusion are key principles we value at council and in our community, which is why this pilot project is essential in identifying accessible routes suitable for everyone.

“People with limited mobility, whether permanent or temporary, often find it a challenge to move around the Coast due to a lack of maps and wayfinding information about accessible routes. That’s about to change.

“This pilot program combines the lived experience of Bevan Kearsley, Dane Cross, Lachy Chapman and Kay MacLean with Biometrix’s innovative technology which collects information about our footpath conditions, access to public transport and parking, amenities, boardwalks, beach accesses and more.”

This pilot project moves away from paper-based accessibility maps and, when live on the Council’s website, will provide instant navigational maps for every community.

Mobility chief pilot, Bevan Kearsley, said, “While able-bodied people can simply decide where they want to go, people living with limited mobility face daily challenges in finding viable routes to go places where they’ve not previously been.

“Many spend hours in planning their route to ensure their way will not be blocked or inaccessible, because most have previously experienced having to abandon their journey to return home.”

Since 2019, Briometrix has used wheelchair pilots to improve the accuracy of navigating footpaths and locate the most accessible routes. Some pilots use electric wheelchairs to measure the inclines and slopes of the streets, while others use iPads and video cameras to map and mark structures, curb ramps, crossings and trip hazards. 

Briometrix CEO, Natalia Verdon, said the organisation aims to improve accessibility for people living with limited mobility.

“Many without a car have become ‘non-users’ of public transport because of a previous poor experience causing loss of confidence,” Ms Verdon said.

“Our data provides insights that are not otherwise visible to Council’s planning professionals, but most importantly, our online maps ensure that no matter what age, ability or mobility, everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the Sunshine Coast.”

Sunshine Coast Council will join other local governments and transport authorities across Australia including Brisbane, Townsville, Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, Wollongong, Sydney, Melbourne and Public Transport Victoria in deploying Briometrix Mobility Maps.

The data is being collated to create the mobility maps, which are expected to go live in April 2022.

Image: Sunshine Coast Council. From left: Bevan Kearsley, Kay MacLean, Mayor Mark Jamieson, Dane Cross, and Cr David Law.

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