Beyond Technological Optimism: Digital divide between older adults’ mobility needs vs. available technology solutions at varying urban densities

This project aims to compare the aging population’s mobility needs and available technology solutions at varying urban densities to identify strategies to bridge the digital divide and improve mobility options for older adults. Most of the aging population’s health and quality of life issues can be traced back to reduced mobility with physical and cognitive decline, particularly in highly automotive-dependent communities/regions. With the emergence of the “smart city” concept, researchers and practitioners suggest various technology solutions example the use of on-demand transportation apps through smartphones to alleviate aging adults’ mobility issues. Technological optimism generally ignores the fact that older adults may not have access to certain technologies for various reasons (economic, physical, cognitive) and may have different mobility needs depending on the region and/or community where they live. For instance, healthy older adults living in the NYC metropolitan area may only need a traveler info mobile app to coordinate their walking and transit trips, whereas in automobile-dependent (especially rural) areas, an on-demand app can be the only option. Understanding the landscape of needs vs. solutions is an important step to identifying the follow-up actions to make technology available and useful to all society segments, including the aging population. To address this research need, Long Island (LI) provides the perfect data collection and technology test bed because LI encompasses the whole spectrum of urban density highly urban (NYC on the West) to rural (agricultural fields on the East) density and multimodal mobility, from transit-rich NYC to transit desert on the East. The transformative nature of the project relies on assessing the use of technologies related to mobility within varying urban densities that lack sufficient research. Along with a literature review of best practices, the project will yield interviews/focus groups and surveys that inquire about older adults’ mobility patterns and issues, their use of mobility technologies, and how they cope with the car-dependent transportation landscape, with particular focus on the impacts of population density. The collected data will be utilized to identify major issues and best practices that will inform policymakers towards all-inclusive and equitable mobility strategies. In addition, the project will provide pilot-worthy, transformational implementation ideas that will be considered for REAT funding.


    • English


    • Status: Active
    • Funding: $Federal: $87,608 Matching: $46,518
    • Contract Numbers:


    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

      University Transportation Centers Program
      Department of Transportation
      Washington, DC  United States  20590
    • Managing Organizations:

      Florida A&M University, Tallahassee

      404 Foote/Hilyer
      Tallahassee, FL  United States  32307
    • Project Managers:

      Moses, Ren

    • Performing Organizations:

      Stony Brook University

      100 Nicolls Road
      Stony Brook, NY  United States  11794
    • Principal Investigators:

      Yazici, Mustafa

    • Start Date: 20230601
    • Expected Completion Date: 20240531
    • Actual Completion Date: 0
    • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers Program

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01896745
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: Rural Equitable and Accessible Transportation Center
    • Contract Numbers: 69A3552348321
    • Files: UTC, RIP
    • Created Date: Oct 19 2023 4:34PM