New Tool to Measure Neighbourhood Accessibility

In Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, the Universal Mobility Index (UMI), a measure of the accessibility of neighbourhoods, has been tested and shows promising results. It was developed by Visionary Design Development, a trans-disciplinary consulting firm that focuses on human needs as they relate to the built environment. 

Prior to the pilot project, researchers conducted a focus group and found that there was no logical approach to methods of finding, reporting, and fixing barriers to mobility in the local neighbourhood of Kensington. The UMI pilot covered an outdoor shopping area and the surrounding area that includes commercial and public buildings, private homes, and infrastructure like crossings, bus stops, and benches. 

The UMI was intended to be participatory, with stakeholders involved in the data-gathering process. Participants with mobility impairments rated a sample of neighbourhood elements on a scale. Data confirmed that the environment limited educational, employment, and recreational opportunities of individuals with disabilities. A questionnaire also addressed the effects of policy and individuals’ access to policy development.

The UMI has great potential to give people a voice, and can be used by governments and organizations to methodically address accessibility considerations. Architects and designers can also use data and information from the final report from the pilot project to inform their work in public places.

To learn more about the Universal Mobility Index (UMI), you can access the article here