Melbourne innovates to improve disabled access

Wednesday, 09 May, 2018

Melbourne innovates to improve disabled access

A competition designed to help Melbourne improve its accessibility has yielded five innovative solutions.

The five finalists were selected after a City of Melbourne-led Open Innovation Competition, which sought tangible solutions to make Melbourne easier to navigate and enjoy for the one in five people who have some form of disability.

The chair of the People City portfolio, Councillor Beverley Pinder, said Melbourne's best and brightest innovators have uncovered a range of incredible solutions which may one day change the face of its city streets.

"As Melbourne continues to grow at a rapid pace it's vital we continue to rethink and rework how our cities are structured to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to experience Melbourne and everything it has to offer," Pinder said.

"We often take for granted our ability to dodge an obstacle on a footpath or navigate a construction site, but for many these present a daily struggle. As a city of progress it's important we find solutions to these problems.

"I am incredibly excited by the creative and tech-driven solutions uncovered by our finalists, all of which will help to dramatically change how people experience and navigate our city.

The Open Innovation Competition finalists include:

  • Audio Accessibility Map by VicDeaf — An accessible, mobile and interactive map of venues throughout the City of Melbourne featuring a hearing augmentation system.
  • Eatability by Michelle Khuu — A rating system which provides guidelines for the food and beverage industry, showcasing a business's accessibility rating for four disability groups: mobility, auditory, visual and cognitive.
  • ClearPath by Samantha Wong — A turn-by-turn navigation system to assist the blind or vision impaired to navigate unfamiliar places including permit events, construction sites, tactile ground surfaces and locations with heavy pedestrian traffic.
  • Melba by Kyle Mantesso and Hong Yew — A pairing of the City of Melbourne's Open Data with smart assistants such as Siri, Google Assist and Amazon's Alexa to provide up-to-date information via voice, text and screen readers.
  • Navigating Melbourne CBD by Daniel Debono and Katelyn Hatton — Creating 'Work' and 'Leisure' lanes with tactile markers to help organise pedestrians in the city to help guide them through busy areas.

Winning pitches have the chance to win $30,000 cash and $40,000 of in-kind prizes, with post-competition support and mentorship from major partners to help develop, implement and scale the top solutions.

The City of Melbourne has partnered with Microsoft, Telstra, PTV, Guide Dogs Victoria, Accenture, CQ University, Impact Co, Metro and Travellers Aid Australia to deliver the competition.

Image caption: Open Innovation Competition finalists preparing for the pitch night at Melbourne Knowledge Week.

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