Midtown News Center

App-Driven Field Work Produces Valuable Data Key to Maintaining Midtown's Walkability, Accessibility

Boasting a WalkScore® of 88 (read ”Very Walkable”), Midtown has been consistently named one of the most walkable and accessible neighborhoods in Atlanta. And this makes sense considering the district’s tight, 120-block street grid that serve tens of thousands of pedestrians daily. To further support this accessibility, Midtown has built-out 15 linear miles of new streetscapes in Midtown since 2000. And we continue to make key investments in sidewalks, curb ramps, and crosswalks throughout the district. 

Block by Block, Intersection by Intersection: In-Depth Look at Midtown’s Pedestrian Network

Midtown Alliance recently engaged researchers from Georgia Tech’s Civil and Environmental Engineering School to assess the existing conditions of Midtown’s pedestrian infrastructure. By using a combination of technologies including Georgia Tech’s Sidewalk Sentry™ system and Sidewalk Scout™, this work thoroughly analyzes the condition of the walking environment through in-depth field inspections of Midtown’s sidewalks, curb ramps, and crosswalks—block by block, intersection by intersection.

“This analysis will help us identify issues, prioritize improvements and ultimately make Midtown an even greater place to experience a walkable urban lifestyle,” said Mark Noll, Transportation Project Manager for Midtown Alliance.

Wheelchair-Mounted Tech Records Midtown’s Sidewalk Quality Issues

If you’ve been out and about in Midtown lately, you may have seen Georgia Tech research teams hard at work, carefully pushing empty wheelchair-type devices along sidewalks and intersections in the district. Employing special data collection software, these research teams use a mounted tablet to collect data on a sidewalk's quality. While the wheelchair is in motion, a mobile app collects video footage, vibration data, and second-by-second GPS position information, all of which document issues including potholes, obstructions, narrowing paths, rough surfaces and more.

Sidewalk Issue Reporting App

The Georgia Tech research team is also using a smartphone app they have developed called Sidewalk Scout™ that logs ramp and curb cut information to create a complete inventory of Midtown’s sidewalk network.

Using these apps in combination, the Georgia Tech research team will collect valuable data—to the tune of 32 linear miles of sidewalk, 180 crosswalks, 550 curb ramps, and 700+ building driveways—that will inform future streetscape improvements to ensure people can easily get around by foot or wheelchair. For instance, Midtown Alliance, in partnership with the City of Atlanta, has secured a Federal grant to add up to 11 new signals at intersections, repaint crosswalks, and reconstruct curb ramps to improve access for people with limited mobility.

“This project, and other recent efforts to improve the pedestrian environment, shows that Midtown Alliance is committed to an attractive, pedestrian-friendly public realm that bolsters community businesses, benefits the quality of life of residents, and attracts visitors,” said Jack Cebe, Georgia Tech Transportation Engineering student and project researcher. “Midtown is truly ahead of the curve in terms of pedestrian accessibility, and this commitment has been a key part of the district’s success.”