Innovation Exchange challenge: Feasibility Study on Safe Urban Navigation for People in Vulnerable Situations

Supporting Cadent Gas and RNIB to develop the feasibility of exploiting data and digital technologies to help vulnerable customers to safely navigate the urban environment with temporary disruptions from construction and maintenance works.

Opportunity Details


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Successful applicants will be given an opportunity to pitch to Cadent. The package may also include support from Innovate UK Business Connect, development and technical support, invitations to attend or present at events, potential business collaboration, investor introductions, support with relevant competitions, and input and interaction on user needs with specialists within Cadent, SCOPE and RNIB.

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Cadent are looking for innovators that can develop tools that extract information about forthcoming and live obstacles to journeys, so that pedestrians with needs, such as vision or mobility restrictions, planning journeys can be both forewarned of the obstacle and offered an alternative safer route.  It is expected that this will entail a research element as the first stage to identify the availability, quality and nature of data within different organisations (such as utilities providers and local authorities).

Data sources are thought to sit across local authorities and utilities companies.  The feasibility phase will identify the quality, accessibility and sufficiency of this data and how well it will address the problem.  There is a need to conduct research which will provide a thorough understanding of what systems and data structures currently exist, capturing information relevant to pedestrian journeys such as pavement diversions, streetworks furniture placement and other potential temporary obstacles such as regular refuse collection or scheduled arborial work for example.

The users of the system have mixed IT literacy and access to technology.  The solution needs to address these limitations so it does not exclude any persons.

It is identified that there are a number of facets to the resulting technology system:

  • Automatically obtaining data of the obstacles – both road and pavement/walkways.
  • Geolocate the obstacles – accuracy and linking to easily identifiable features or landmarks.
  • Communicate the obstacles geolocation meaningfully and accessibly to blind and partially sighted people without reliance upon Smartphone technology
  • Based on relevant user preferences and data, provide the ability to plan a route, avoiding or circumvent known obstacles whilst on route together with the near real time ability to locate/interact with obstacles on route.  Such solutions might employ Smartphone technology.
  • And in the future: communicate with technologies such as wearable devices that can provide more situational awareness and contextual information of a person’s environment, improving the quality of decision making and efficiency of task completion.

A 6-12 month programme to real-world trials is anticipated.

For further requirements (technical, operational, scope and cost) visit the Innovation Exchange site at the link below.

Who can apply?

Entrants to this competition are expected to be established businesses, test houses, academic institutions, startups, SMEs or individual entrepreneurs, who are UK based or have the intention to set up a UK base. Companies working in collaboration are encouraged to apply where this will provide a stronger overall solution.


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