Past Winners

WARSAW : 2014 WINNER

Virtual Warsaw: An Urban Information System for the Visually Impaired

  • 1,740,119

    Population (2014)
  • €26,100

    GDP per capita (2013)
  • Polish

    Official language
  • Directly elected mayor (four-year term)

    Type of government
  • Additional facts

    • 40,000 visually impaired people live in Warsaw
  • • The unemployment rate in Warsaw’s blind population is 81%

The Problem

Forty-thousand of Warsaw’s two million residents are visually impaired. People with visual impairment encounter many obstacles in everyday life and are often unable to actively participate in city life. A survey of visually impaired people in Warsaw found that it sometimes takes 60-95 hours of training to learn how to move safely around the city.

The Innovation

Thousands of beacons will be installed around the city to communicate location data to the smartphones of the visually impaired, empowering them to navigate on their own. These beacons can also be leveraged to help all citizens more easily locate cultural attractions and navigate public transportation.

The Impact

The city has worked with blind and visually impaired residents to test early versions of the beacon technology and mobile application in public buildings, museums, cultural centers, and its mass transportation system. Warsaw plans to create a new “beacon zone” — a portion of the city that will be filled with beacons—by the end of 2017. This system will be used to help train 1,000 visually impaired people on how to use the system.


  • Additional facts

    • 40,000 visually impaired people live in Warsaw
  • • The unemployment rate in Warsaw’s blind population is 81%

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