Past, present and future of

Accessible Zaragoza study case

Improving handicapped people’s autonomy through collaborative mapping

Carlos Cámara* | Miguel Sevilla** | Javier Corzán* | Javier Claver* | Ana Ruiz*
*: Universidad San Jorge, **: Mapeado Colaborativo, Universidad de Zaragoza, IPE-CSIC.

Background (2016)

  • Since 2010: Private Sponsorship by Bantierra-Fundación Adecco, aimed to promote action research projects regarding disabilities at Universidad San Jorge.
    • Replacement: Ángel Comeras (2010-2014) -> Carlos Cámara (2016)

New people, new approach:

  1. Extending the research to urban scale (Buildings -> cities)
  2. Focusing on Service-Learning dimension
  3. Connecting (unconsciously) with our prior research on (social) exclusion and urban morphology.

The problem(s)

People with disabilities cannot be fully autonomous when moving within a city (especially in an unknown city).

Two types of exclusion:

  • Physical: urban design
  • Technological: (lack of) specialized apps/services
Photo: Igor Rodrigues

Our Goal

The creation of a pilot to overcome those 2 problems.

  • Map capable of:
    • Assessing Zaragoza in terms of accessibility
    • Providing routing calculations for disabled people in order to improve their autonomy
  • Test a protocol/methodology

Our Principle: Open and collaborative project

Political decision:

  • Results should be used and shared by anyone if they are to be of any use
  • Citizenship has to be part of it

Pragmatic decision:

  • Overcome our own limitations (staff, infrastructure)
  • Reduce setup time


AKA “The wikipedia of the maps”

  • Crowdsorced approach (data gathering, standardization)
  • Sharing data (legally + technically): return to society

Teaming up with others

  • Mapeado Colaborativo (Zaragoza Activa)
  • Association/Activism:
    • Discapacitados Sin Fronteras
    • Mundo Crip
    • Ganchillo Social
  • Administration:
    • Civic Centers
Mapping party organized by Mapeado Colaborativo and Discapacitados Sin Fronteras Aragón.


Some procedures, accomplishments and failures between 2016 and 2018

Data Gathering

Mapping parties*

  • 5 Mapping parties
  • Volunteers doing specific Fieldwork

* Organized by Mapeado Colaborativo

Service Learning Activities

  • Compulsory activity for students from Urban Studies at USJ’s School of Architecture and Technology.
    • Addressed to future urban planners
    • Compulsory subject, Assessed activity
  • Social implications of urban design
  • Technological tools (GIS, queryng databases…)
Conchita Galve, from Discapacitados Sin Fronteras, shares her experience on moving by Zaragoza in a wheelchair.

Fieldwork by our staff

Thanks César Canalís (2016-17), Lourdes Pérez (2016-17) and Javier Claver (2018-2019)!

Students from USJ taking field notes about kerbs and tactile paving in a pedestrian crossing. Credits: Héctor Ochoa

Awareness rasising

Laura Moya (mundo Crip) and her guide dog, Geniva, explaining how blind people move and orient themselves in the city.
Arrabal Mapping party, organized by Mapeado Colaborativo with Ganchillo Social: Pedestrians are usually shocked by a group like this and asks us many questions and comments. It raises unplanned and interesting conversations.


2 online maps: for visually impaired people and for mobility disabilities.

Public attention

(Unexpected outcome)

Mapping Party recording for a live TV shop.
Newspaper news about a Mapping party (Heraldo, 2017)


No routing calculations!

Paradoxically, we failed to (fully) achieve our first goal*.

*Current ongoing research, led by Miguel Sevilla.

About the visualization

  • Maps are not useful
    • Not clear/easy to understand
    • Not visible by their audience
    • Manually updated -> outdated

About OSM

  • Sidewalks do not always conform a good network
  • Difficult to add information if you are not used to it (technical skills)
  • Lack of total control -> Uncertainty (about data)
  • Some keys/values are limited
  • Difficulties in tracing/crediting the work

Overwhelming success

Could not attend to everyone who has shown interest on the project:

  • Schools
  • Public Administration
  • Neighbourhood associations
  • Activists

What are we working now (2019-…)

Let’s talk about the present (and the future)

State of the art

  • Several types:
    • Scale: Buildings / Streets
    • Aim: Visualization / Validation / Routing
    • Code: OpenSource / Closed
    • Data: Crowdsorced / Imported / Private
  • Purpose: reflect on our own work
    • Whishlist for Zaccesible

Summary/comparison of regulation

Infographic summarising situations described in accessibility regulations, by Javier Corzán.

Custom base maps

Protanopia and Deuteranopia


Assessing Zaragoza’s neighbours


Things are better when done together!

The future…

Keep on with good work

  • Mapping parties
    • Awareness raising
    • Empowering
    • Data gathering
  • Service Learning Activities
    • Improving students curricula (technical + social skills)
  • Improve data gathering*:
    • Easier methodology/toolset

*Under the lead/expertise of Mapeado Colaborativo

New approach to the project

Some other things need to be rethinked

Create a modular approach

  • Vast and complex field
    • No need for everyone to do everyhing -> stand on the shoulders of giants
  • Encourage collaboration
    • Autonomous groups working in what they are best at
Wikihouse's scheme: an example of modular (and open) construction system.

New Focus to the theme

  • Pivot from Service-Learning programmes to Research programmes.
  • Enhance citizen science’s dimension.
  • Link the project with prior research on (social) exclusion and urban morphology
    1. Right to the city (Lefebvre, 168; Harvey 2008)
    2. Spatial Justice (Soja, 2010)
  • To you, for your attention
  • AOS Research Group and Universidad San Jorge, for their support, financing and seeding the project.
  • Zaccesible research staff (present, and former)
  • Mapeado Colaborativo, for their valuable collaboration from the very beginning.
  • All volunteers and associations, for their help in data collection (DSFA, Ganchillo Social, Mundo Crip, AAVV…).
  • Colegio de Arquitectos de Aragón, for being such great hosts.