Urban Connector Year 3: Field Tests


Over the past three years, researchers at UTEP and NYU have collaborated on the development of a smartphone application, Urban Connector, which is designed to cater to the urban mobility needs and preferences of seniors in El Paso. A prototype of the application was developed and a follow-up survey was conducted to gather feedback. The app was improved to its beta version, and was tested by seniors in El Paso in their day-to-day travels.

After testing the initial build of the Urban Connector app in El Paso, the newest version was tested with seniors in New York City as part of the field tests scheduled for the third year of the Urban Connector Project.

The goal was to recruit seniors to test the most recent build of the Urban Connector app for both Android and iOS by scheduling visits to at least two senior centers in Brooklyn or Manhattan. After installation and instructions on how to use the app during visits to the centers, senior who signed up would then have a minimum of two weeks to try the app. After this time, seniors were contacted to collect their feedback with a survey. The results from this survey are shown below in the Related Media section.

Seniors in New York City seem to be more tech-savvy than seniors in the rest of the country. More than half of the participants reported using the MyMTA app for the New York City Transit system, which can have complex navigation features. This, and the simplicity of the features of the Urban Connector app might be a cause for the low interest among the seniors contacted in New York City.

Most seniors in New York City choose the bus as their main mode of transportation.  Since there’s already more comprehensive apps that help seniors navigate the transit system, such as MyMTA, and the Urban Connector app doesn’t simplify the route explanation process for public transportation for these people.

The overall feedback from the survey was positive. However, one main complaint was the limited capability of adding addresses to the “Frequent Places”, and there is a desire for an option to add multiple friends addresses.


Research Objectives

  • Customize the beta version of the UC application for the needs of seniors in New York City
  • Perform a beta test in New York City and gather user input
  • Fine-tune the UC application based on the information collected in the third survey in El Paso to release version 1.0 of the application
  • Collect a set of UC application usage data through an anonymous pilot test
  • Explore a data analysis framework that will characterize a UC application user’s mobility patterns while maintaining user anonymity


Related Media




Associate Director, C2SMART
Professor, UTEP

Kelvin Cheu is the Principal Investigator on this project.

Joseph Chow

Deputy Director, C2SMART

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

Guillermina Núñez-Mchiri

Director, UTEP

Guillermina Núñez-Mchiri is a Co-Principal Investigator on this project.

Natalia Villanueva Rosales

Associate Professor, UTEP

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

Alex Vargas

Researcher, UTEP

Alex Vargas is a Researcher on this project.

Okan Gurbuz

Affiliated Researcher, UTEP

Okan Gurbuz is a Researcher on this project.

Diana Becerra

Researcher, UTEP

Diana Becerra is a Researcher on this project.

Tania Licon

Researcher, UTEP

Tania Licon is a Researcher on this project.