Development of a Mobile Navigation Smartphone Application for Seniors in Urban Areas


Many seniors face mobility issues and lifestyle changes, such as switching from driving to using a carpool, taxi or fixed-route or demand-responsive public transportation. While there are many navigation apps on the market, very few cater to the specific mobility needs of seniors (such as incorporating information on ADA compliant infrastructure), and the few that exist have limited functions.

This project aims to understand the lifestyle and mobility needs of seniors and to develop a prototype smartphone smart mobility application that caters to those needs.

The researchers worked with the City of El Paso to conduct surveys at senior centers in the city to learn what features and functionality are most important to the app’s potential users. The survey’s results showed that respondents want driving navigation functions, with options to choose routes based on their main concerns, such as avoiding traffic congestion or parking availability.

The findings from this survey will be used to design and develop an app. The prototype will undergo pilot testing in El Paso and New York, and feedback from testers will be used to improve the app’s functionality.

The UTEP team made numerous efforts to reach out to their target user group, both to gather data that inform the design of the Urban Connector app and to publicize the app and its features.

Research Objectives

The main deliverable for this project was a smartphone navigation app that addresses the specific mobility needs and priorities of seniors, improving their ability to travel around their cities. After the prototype was developed, the researchers recruited seniors to test the app for a few weeks, and then gathered their feedback. 

In order to find out what features would be most useful to their target user group, the researchers surveyed of more than 450 seniors in El Paso, Texas. The survey covered demographic information, lifestyle factors, and transportation habits and needs.


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Kelvin Cheu

Professor, UTEP

Kelvin Cheu is the Principal Investigator for this project.

Natalia Villanueva Rosales

Professor, UTEP

Natalia Villanueva Rosales is a Co-Principal Investigator for this project.

Joseph Chow

Assistant Professor, NYU

Joseph Chow is a Co-Principal Investigator for this project.


Associate Professor, UTEP

Guillermina Gina Nunez-Mchiri is a Co-Principal Investigator for this project.


Assistant Professor, University of Texas at Tyler

Matt Vechione is a Researcher for this project.

Okan Gurbuz

Assistant Research Scientist, UTEP

Okan Gurbuz is a Researcher for this project.


Researcher, UTEP

Raul Alejandro Vargas Acosta is a Researcher for this project.

Maria Jimenez

Researcher, UTEP

Maria Jimenez is a Researcher for this project.


Researcher, UTEP

Corina Marrufo is a Researcher for this project