CF Pacific Centre Mall: Inclusive Audio-Based Indoor Navigation Pilot

In 2021, A New Inclusive Shopping Experience is Coming to CF Pacific Centre in Downtown Vancouver

Smartphone users will be able to navigate the interior of Cadillac Fairview’s CF Pacific Centre using an interactive app called Accessibuild. Jeff Godfrey, the app developer, explains, “users will be able to complete journeys in real time or virtually. The app provides directions and instructions from a starting point until the user arrives at their destination. Providing an experience like outdoor GPS but indoors. Unlike other apps that use a purely graphic interface, this one is fully accessible to persons who are blind”.

Lillian Tummonds, General Manager, and her team at CF Pacific Centre have been collaborating with Y4U / Accessibuild and Gateway Navigation CCC Ltd to implement this first of its kind pilot in Canada.

David Brun, Founder of Gateway Navigation a community contribution company in partnership with the Canadian Council of the Blind, describes the recent innovations in creating highly accurate architectural models, “as the game changer in providing accurate wayfinding that delivers a unique augmented reality experience for all users.”

What has happened so far?

Early in December, Kickstart, a local BC company specializing in LiDAR scan technology, worked a night shift compiling one hundred and twenty laser light scans of Cadillac Fairview’s flagship mall in Vancouver, CF Pacific Centre. The mall stretches three city blocks, starting at Robson Street to the south and extending to Pender Street at the north, including the large food court connecting the Mall to the Heritage Hudson Bay Building.

This location has long been considered the epicentre of downtown Vancouver. The adjacent Canada Line SkyTrain Station bears the name City Centre. A fitting starting point for creating accessible and inclusive indoor wayfinding for all downtown Vancouver’s shoppers and visitors.

In September 2020 Y4U / Accessibuild and Gateway Navigation CCC Ltd. joined a conversation with Cadillac Fairview that had been initiated by David Martin, a tenant in 701 West Georgia Street, an office tower connected to the Mall. Due to David’s own personal experience of growing up with his mother, Maureen, blind from the advancement of Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), he recognized the potential impact of accessible audio-based indoor navigation for the users of such an important community space in Vancouver. He appreciates the benefits his mother and other family members with vision impairment would get from being more independent and confident in navigating their trips to local shops and venues at CF Pacific Centre.

Hence, a single letter initiated a conversation, that in turn identified a common vision, and has now transformed into a pilot project that will provide greater access and inclusion for everyone.

What are the next steps?

In February 2021, Y4U will have converted the data point cloud gathered by the LiDAR scans into a digital 3D architectural map of the main level of CF Pacific Centre. They will then download the essential elements of that map to their Accessibuild platform, following the voluntary standards set out by the Computer Technology Association (as included in the recommendations of the CTA inclusive indoor and outdoor audio-based navigation system for all persons).

Gateway Navigation CCC Ltd. personnel, who have overseen the collaboration from inception, will then engage with Cadillac Fairview, local community stakeholders, accessibility consultants and orientation mobility professionals to beta test the Accessibuild app and platform. Feedback from that engagement will result in recommendations to enhance the audio-based augmented reality experience delivered to users.

As we progress through the pilot, we look forward to providing updates leading up to the launch of the Accessibuild app in the Spring of 2021.

Many thanks to the exceptional team at Cadillac Fairview for their commitment and willingness to partner with us on this community project. Thanks also to David Martin who took the time to write the letter to introduce Gateway Navigation CCC Ltd. to the Cadillac Fairview team.

Please feel free to contact us by e-mail at: partners@gnc3.com with any questions, feedback or leads for future projects.

David Brun, Gateway Navigation CCC Ltd.

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