Aira, Moovit, and Microsoft’s Azure Maps Partner to Help Make Smart Cities More Inclusive 

November 19th, 2019

Aira Explorer with a big smile, white cane in his left hand, and cell phone in his right hand with it’s camera pointed directly away from him. Beneath the image is a white background with the Moovit, Aira, and Microsoft Azure Maps logos. And a thin horizontal border in blue on the very bottom of this image.

As more people flock to urban centers to live, the importance of making our cities smarter, more inclusive, and accessible for everyone will increase, according to experts, including big-city municipal leaders. Echoing this, the United Nations predicts that today’s urban populations worldwide will grow from 55% to 68% by 2050 at a time when most cities still lack adequate accessibility for those with vision loss and disabilities, especially in meeting daily public transportation needs.

This is why Aira, along with tech leaders Moovit and Azure Maps, will announce today they are joining forces to make public transit in and around urban areas more inclusive for blind and low vision riders and others, enabling users to travel with more confidence and efficiency.

“Public transport can be critical for access to jobs, education, healthcare, and the community,” says Amy Bernal, Chief Experience Officer at Aira. “This will become even more important as automation and digital solutions become more prevalent, as there is an actual risk of people being excluded.” Aira’s partnership with Moovit and Azure Maps is exciting, “because it brings together the technological expertise of each company to remove barriers that people with vision loss face in accessing public transportation.”

For example, in addressing the problem, Moovit is the world’s leading urban mobility app for Android and iOS, and with half a billion users, it has the largest platform comprised of public transit riders. Azure Maps, employing the continuous innovation of Microsoft, is a leader in cloud computing services. Its technology gives users the freedom to build, manage, and deploy applications on a massive global network, including geospatial APIs to add maps, spatial analytics, and mobility solutions to apps. And of course, Aira’s service connects people who are blind, have low vision, or are simply aging into a digital world, with real, highly-trained professionals who provide visual information on demand via a mobile app or smart glasses.

Here’s a closer look at the technology that Aira, Azure Maps, and Moovit bring to this groundbreaking partnership:

Aira: Providing A More Inclusive Solution for Transit 

Through their mobile app or smart glasses, Aira connects users to trained professionals, called Aira Agents, who can see a user’s environment through their mobile camera. This allows agents to describe objects, read signage, provide navigation, take and label photos, and much more.  Moreover, in locations where “Aira Access” is enabled, users can connect to Aira free of charge, for as long as they need to accomplish a task. This includes municipalities, corporations, airports, transit authorities, college campuses, and retail – enabling blind, low-vision, and older adults to fully engage and experience the world around them. Aira leverages the geospatial and mapping capabilities from Azure Maps and the transit capabilities of Moovit.

Moovit enhances Transit Riding for people with disabilities

Moovit, a key platform content partner with Azure Maps, was launched in 2011 in Israel and has since become the world’s most popular transit-planning and navigation app, with more than 400 million users and service in 2,700 cities across 90 countries. The company is also a leader in inclusive technology, with innovative work that helps people across the disability spectrum use buses, trains, subways, ride-hailing services, and other modes of public transit.

In addition to offering a consumer app in 45 languages, Moovit has partnered with Microsoft to provide its multi-modal transit data to developers who use Azure Maps, and a set of mobility-as-a-service solutions to cities, governments and organizations. This collaboration will enable the creation of more inclusive smart cities and more accessible transit apps.

Azure Maps and Accessibility

With its accessible set of geospatial APIs, Azure Maps has become a critical tool used by city planners in tackling the complexities of increased urban populations. Azure maps makes it easy for users to navigate interactively (using either a mouse, touch, or keyboard) for map data, traffic, real-time transit and rideshare, and weather data. The technology also provides screen readers with enhanced descriptions that can combine multiple updates into a single message that is easier to digest and understand. Recently, Azure Maps achieved Microsoft certification for its accessibility. All apps – both Microsoft-owned and those of 3rd parties – that use Azure Maps are enabled with the accessibility features immediately upon activation.

Join us at Smart City Expo World Congress

To connect with cities on the latest developments that are driving digital information and the future of smart cities, Aira, along with Moovit and Azure Maps, will be at Smart City Expo World Congress, the industry-leading event focused on smart urbanization. The Expo, set for November 19-21 in Barcelona, Spain, will showcase the latest technologies and partners that are making smart cities a reality. Visit the Microsoft booth at Gran Via, Hall P2, Stand 223 to learn more about our conference presence at Smart City Expo World Congress 2019.