Brussels / 30 & 31 January 2016


Beacons in public transport for visually-impaired people in a FOSS mobile app

Everything simple for simply everyone

SASA AG, as public transport operator in major cities in South Tyrol (Italy), has introduced a Bluetooth Beacon infrastructure in their busnetwork in order to make users lives easier. With the app SASAbus users can access real-time passenger information very easily as with the help of the Bluetooth Beacons the exact users' position is selected automatically. To achieve this, the app combines FOSS and OpenData.

Introducing Bluetooth Beacons in our FOSS mobile Application

The first thing to say is that we, SASA AG, are a public transport company in major cities in South Tyrol (Italy) with a strong philosophy of using OpenData and OpenSource to approach our daily challenges. Our mobile application, called SASAbus, provides Real-time Passenger Information, such as information on delays, busnetwork updates, etc. But there we encountered also some issues: to see the real-time departures of the buses, the users had to choose the bus stop manually, because, as everybody knows, in the urban area GPS is not as precise as expected. However, not everyone knows the name of every bus stop, and for people with special needs, for example visually impaired people, it is even harder to type the right bus stop name. To resolve these problems, we decided to put in place a Bluetooth beacon infrastructure on the buses and also on the bus stops. With this infrastructure the application can get information on the exact users' position: where are they waiting for the bus or in which bus are they traveling. Users get the real-time departures automatically when they open the app on the bus stop or directly on the bus, so they know in every moment everything about their trip. This can be for example very important for visually impaired people, because they obviously cannot see where they are: they have either to trust other passengers or their Smartphones. We released the entire source code of our FOSS app under the GPLv3 license and also the beacons' IDs (Creative Commons) in order that everything can be used by other programmers to create some beautiful apps.

I would like to explain you the concept and the work we have done further in my talk.


Photo of Markus Windegger Markus Windegger