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Seminar on Location Services for People with Disabilities

Priorities for Accessible Location Services
Using Network-based Information

18th October 2012


Inclusive Network-based Applications - Pier-Luigi Emiliani
Mobile Innovation – More Still to Do? - Mike Short
Accessible Journey Planning for London 2012 and Beyond - Nick Illsley
Inclusive Location Services: Making It Simple - Ian Hosking
How Smart Living Can be Integrated into Future Systems - Ad van Berlo
Research Actions to Facilitate eInclusion - Patrick Roe

Nigel Wall opened the seminar by explaining that increasingly location-based services will be integrated with other sources of information which will be of great significance to people with disabilities. One aim of this seminar is to lead towards a plan for future research and development in this area.

Pier-Luigi Emiliani explained that the Cardiac project is addressing the network as a socialising environment and as a provider of explicit support. eInclusion is broader than just accessibility, and is defined as a form of universal access. Design for all in information and communication technologies requires input at the level of design specifications as well as at the level of product implementation. In the long term, the ambient intelligent environment will require the full integration of a wide range of elements which requires a change in paradigm (from individual interaction to social networking, as well as the emphasis changing from the technology to useful functionalities). The user interfaces will be multi-modal, distributed in space and capable of combining to provide appropriate services.

Mike Short estimates that there are 30 million smart phones in use in the UK, and this is likely to increase. At the end of 2011 there were now more mobile phones than toothbrushes (5.6 billion compared with 4.2 billion). By 2020 he estimates globally there will be 50 billion internet capable devices ( some with subscriptions), including smart devices such as smart meters and connected cars. 1.8 billion mobile phones are shipped every year. Location based information services can have a variety of business models. It is crucial that user trust is built and that data is only used appropriately ( eg which cloud system(s) should be trusted ?). He concluded that the pace of ICT is speeding up – what is the best way to harness the new services to benefit all people, including those with disabilities? This will require new collaborations between sectors which traditionally have not collaborated.

Nick Illsley covered where we are now regarding access to public transport, what was done for the London Games, and what could be done. Users want comprehensive travel information but just the parts which are relevant to them. Accessibility of public transport is variable – in particular old systems (eg London Underground) are less accessible than new systems (eg airports). Currently there is considerable quantity of data about transport systems in London, but it is a time consuming task to extract the relevant information. The data needs are stops (eg accessibility of platforms), vehicles (eg low floor) and schedules (eg booking required). To significantly progress in this area will require open and expanded standards, as well as comprehensive user requirements for designing journey planning systems.

Ian Hosking described factors affecting inclusive design of products such as mobile phones. Diversity is the norm among the general population. The worldwide increase in the number of older people is significant for the design of products for use by individuals. Accessibility needs to be considered from the outset in the design of the whole system, and not just treated as a ‘bolt-on’ feature.

Ad van Berlo explained the relationship between location-based services and smart living. The integration of these two areas would give users a seamless experience from inside their homes to being outside their homes. Smart housing increasingly relies on intelligence in the component systems rather than a central computer system. The take-up of various technologies, such as social alarms, depends significantly on the financial reimbursement systems in different countries. Despite appropriate technology existing, it is often not widely implemented. The two most significant developments are the devices (tablets and smart phones) and the widespread availability of broadband. However there are an increasing number of ethical issues. The multitude of competing standards is holding back progress in this area. There needs to be a balance about who controls the technology – the end user or someone else.

Patrick Roe described the aims of the Cardiac project as to advise the European Commission as to where to direct research funding in the near and more distant future within the context of ICT for independent living, inclusion and governance. In practice this involves developing a research agenda roadmap. He explained the role of influence maps as a step in the process to producing a comprehensive roadmap. The final roadmap will be presented at a conference on 22nd January 2013 – details are at http://www.cardiac-eu.org/about/conference.htm