Bucharest has already installed 500 iBeacon devices on buses across the metropolis. The new Smart Public Transport (SPT) initiative will hopefully make the city safer and more accessible for the estimated 12,000 visually impaired citizens who live there.
The Smart Public Transport project frees visually impaired users from having to rely on a friend, passenger or transport official to tell them when their bus has turned up. It works via an accompanying smartphone app, which receives a ping from the iBeacon over Bluetooth as the bus arrives — the iBeacon tells the app the identity of the bus so passengers can check if it’s the one they’re waiting for.
The buses involved in the service cover all of the main public areas of the Romanian capital. The application can also be used to plot routes across the city, so there’s no need to pore over timetables and route guides to get from one place to another – everything is handled on the phone.
Development of the system began in January, and the first phase of deployment is scheduled to last until August, when it will become available to all. A team of volunteers has agreed to put the network through its paces, and their feedback is going to be used to help fine tune the scheme as it expands further during the rest of the year.
A specially enhanced iBeacon model was developed for use in the SPT project, one designed to be more durable and longer lasting than standard devices, and with a greater range. The small puck-shaped beacons only need replacing every four years, so it’s a very low-maintenance network.