AccessCity

What’s your idea?

To develop a site to enable a user-generated view of London (in the first instance, but with the ability to be rolled out nationally and beyond) from an accessibility perspective.

We would hope that this addressed the notion of accessibility primarily from the perspective of Londoners who may have a disability or are traveling with children in the first instance, but the notion of accessibility should be broadened to include the needs of as wide a group as possible.

While there are numerous more institutional perspectives on what represents accessibility in London, including Transport for London’s admirable efforts through their route planner, this information is often created from an ‘expert’ or engineer’s perspective without as much input from Londoners and their real life experience of getting around the city as there should be.

This will therefore also inform public and private organisations in London as to where the people moving around London face difficulties and enable them to target improvements.

What is the social need or challenge your idea could address?

It is clear from both the aspirations of the Mayor, his agencies such as Transport for London and the work of organisations in and around London such as London Travel Watch, getting around the city remains a challenge for Londoners who may have a disability or are traveling with children, shopping or luggage.

While the number one priority for both pressure groups and the transport bodies themselves remains to make public transport truly step free wherever possible (and rightly so), there are a number of other accessibility issues that face a wide cross-section across the capital.

In September this year, Mayor of London Boris Johnson urged “all London businesses, including shops, restaurants and hotels, to start thinking now about how they can make their services as accessible as possible in time for the 2012 Games.”

There are also other areas of access and the public realm that impact on Londonders, for instance access to public toilets. Whether from parliament or civil society, there is pressure mounting on public and private organisations to ensure that public toilets remain open and accessible to all.

And there are bound to be a whole host of other accessibility challenges that I can’t think of that need to be brought to the attention of organisations that can start to address them, as well as giving people facing these challenges an opportunity to get involved, share work around and contribute to working with these organisations to resolve them.

What’s really new about your idea?

There are plenty of official sources of information about access and the city, however very little user generated content. Where user generated content exists, it is across a number of sites (from Flickr to Facebook to travel sites such as tripadvisor) but never has it been brought together in one place to act as a really simple, useful central source of information, advice and group pressure from ‘people like me’.

AccessCity would provide the chance to show that what meets the needs of official (accessibility) targets doesn’t necessarily meet the needs of the people out there using the city on a daily basis. Change needs to be accelerated and better meet the needs of the people facing the urban assault course.

What inspired you to come up with your idea in the first place?

Last year’s proposal and the work since with Enabled by Design. Also seeing the great work by the team involved in Scripting Enabled like Easy Google Maps which could really turn this idea into a useable reality.

From 1-5, what stage of development would you say your idea was in?

2 – strong idea of the problem at hand, initial research into current practice and gaps, initial discussions with people who would like to be involve on the weekend and in the project in the longer term.

What can we do for you?

It would be great if you could help find people to lead. Also, we would need a geek, funder and a mentor.

If Social Innovation Camp is able to help push your idea forward, do you have the time or desire to take ownership of it?

Yes. Would love to bring in to the Enabled by family of projects in the medium term if possible.

If not, would you be happy for someone else to take your idea forward?

Happy to work with others to advise, share experience, knowledge and networks. Making it happen is the most important thing!

This idea was submitted by Dominic Campbell.

Dominic is the director of FutureGov and Co-Founder of Enabled by Design. Enabled by Design was the winner of last year’s Social Innovation Camp.

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