In this episode I have a fascinating conversation with Chad Ramage, Founder of Accessibility in the City, an online mapping solution that helps support those with accessibility issues with navigation. As someone in a wheelchair himself who is actively working on an innovative solution to accessibility problems, I knew Chad was going to be an excellent guest for our #mobilitymarch series. In this episode Chad tells us about his background in information technology and his passion for accessibility, including his experiences being in a wheelchair that really sparked his interest in the Smart Community and Accessibility space. Chad and I discuss what a Smart Community is and why the concepts of accessibility and inclusion so important, plus the need for genuine consultation on accessibility solutions with the people who have accessibility problems. We talk about how data can help Chad with planning accessible journeys, and all about his platform to help others do just that. Chat explains Accessibility in the City, including how it works and who is using it the most so far. We discuss why accessibility needs to be a key area for local government, and how increasing accessibility also means increasing social inclusion and quality of life. We finish our chat discussing the emerging trend of data security and privacy for everybody, but especially how that impacts people with disabilities and other vulnerable community members, plus the biggest accessibility issues Chad has that people don’t talk about enough. As always we hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it.

Listen here: 

What we cover in this episode: 

  • Chad’s background in information technology and his passion for accessibility 
  • The personal experiences that have sparked Chad’s interest in the Smart Community space
  • Digital Transformation and how Newcastle is embracing Smart City concepts
  • What a Smart Community means to Chad and why active participation and accessibility are key 
  • The need for genuine consultation regarding accessibility and why it is such an important concept that benefits everyone
  • Data security, collecting data and how that could help Chad with planning and accessibility 
  • Accessibility issues with parking, bathrooms, public transport and how data can help provide information for decision making
  • About the platform Chad is working on, called Accessibility in the City, and how it works 
  • Why accessibility is such an important issue for local government 
  • How we can better integration across different different disciplines, industries, governments and academia
  • The implications of accessibility and mobility (or lack thereof) on social inclusion and quality of life
  • The emerging trends of data security and privacy for everybody, but especially how that impacts people with disabilities and other vulnerable community members
  • The biggest accessibility issues Chad has that people don’t talk about enough  

Quotes:

“In 2013, when I did first start using a wheelchair, I found just moving around using public transport was really difficult for someone with limited mobility. So I had to try and navigate physical barriers that able bodied people didn’t really think about, like blocked wheelchair ramps, buildings with no lifts, no accessible car parks or toilets, or even railway stations with no step free access.”

“The map itself is [called] Accessibility in the City. On that platform, we’ve been working with some councils that have been able to give us some of their verified data. The verified data we’ve got in there is car parks, toilets, if there’s any lifts that can assist getting through the public space, if there’s stairs that you may want to avoid. We’ve been able to pull data from Transport for New South Wales to identify non-accessible stations. If you have a look at the map, you can actually see where businesses are, where car parks are, and be able to make some of those educated decisions.”

“For agencies that have support workers that go out and work with people with low mobility, they were actually genuinely surprised at the amount of accessible parks that they didn’t know about. Everyone kind of has rough ideas that driving here there might be one or two parks and we’ll just give it a red hot go. But when you can put the 200 accessible car parks for one region in [on a map] and these people just look at it and [can plan trips].”

“20% of Australians have a declared disability, and 6% of the population is under four, so [there are] parents with prams looking for easier mobility options as well. Over 14% of the population is over 65, and may be looking at limited mobility as well. So I’m really trying to push that up to 40% of the population are looking for easier ways to move through our communities. That’s something that Councils really need to get on board.”

“It does feel like sometimes accessibility is a secondary thought or not budgeted for in core activities, which can be disappointing.”

Links

Connect: 

Connect with Chad via LinkedIn, on Facebook or via the website 

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community 

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @SmartCommHQ

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Perk Digital.

My Smart Community

My Smart Community offers consulting and media services with a focus on making our communities more accessible, liveable and sustainable for all. We have a focus on Smart Mobility, Smart project management, Smart technology in regional communities, dealing with disruption and facilitating genuine collaboration. As well as podcast production, communication and media advisory and engagement, keynote speaking, moderating, master of ceremonies and workshop design and facilitation.

The Smart Community Podcast

The Smart Community Podcast is a hub where smart and exciting people from all around the world come to discuss all things Smart City, Smart Town, Smart Region - anything that makes a place more liveable. Together we can create our own Smart Communities.

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