Rene Perkins recounts a story about a colleague who took his mother to see a musical in London’s West End, a seemingly simple outing that anyone might enjoy on a Saturday night. But it wasn’t as easy as it appears — since the colleague’s mother is in a wheelchair, they had to carefully consider the extra time they’d need to reach the venue, the best mode of transportation for her condition, how to enter the theatre accessibly, and which restaurants would have the facilities to accommodate a wheelchair. For individuals with physical, visual, or hearing impairments, navigating a world created for the able-bodied can be a struggle.
“Stories like that make you think about the extra layer of difficulty and more limited choices people with disabilities face,” said Perkins, “and that’s something I like to highlight. It’s not something able-bodied people often consider.”
Sustainable, inclusive transportation solutions are Perkins’s passion and core focus. As CEO and founder of CityMaaS, a U.K. startup that has developed a platform where users can find accessibility info and relevant travel information before their journeys, she knows that accurate, relevant information is paramount for planning, particularly for people with disabilities.
“EVERYONE WILL EXPERIENCE SOME KIND OF DISABILITY IN THEIR LIFE, WHETHER IT’S SITUATIONAL, SUCH AS HAVING AN ACCIDENT OR SURGERY, OR SIMPLY DUE TO GROWING OLDER,” EXPLAINED PERKINS. “THAT’S WHY INCLUSIVITY IS SO IMPORTANT.”
At Voi, we’re committed to offering practical solutions for all road users and raising awareness of vulnerable groups. We want to do our part to make cities as livable and accessible as possible — and that includes ensuring that pathways are free of disruptions. That’s why we’ve teamed up with CityMaaS and Captur, a London-based computer vision startup that helps companies manage photo evidence of rentals, to give all road users — particularly vulnerable ones — a simple way to locate, navigate around, and report any misplaced scooters that may cause concern to the public or obstruct pathways.
The joint collaboration comes at a time when cities are changing to accommodate more active, sustainable, and inclusive transport modes.
“Voi is commendable because it provides the education and partnerships to actively promote inclusive mobility,” said Perkins.
The Voi and CityMaaS partnership will help vulnerable road users to see the location of e-scooters that may impact their journeys. Voi’s API integration with the CityMaaS Mobility Map Platform allows CityMaaS to share the location of Voi e-scooters in its real-time travel information. The platform uses machine learning to predict any missing accessibility data with an accuracy of 80%, enabling the community to crowd-source real-time travel information to overcome travel obstacles. CityMaaS has around 500 active users globally, mostly in the U.S. and the U.K.
In January 2021, Voi is also planning a trial with Captur. The integration will make it possible for anyone who finds a misplaced or poorly parked Voi e-scooter to report its location by scanning a QR code on the scooter’s base. This solution will make it easier for Voi’s recovery teams to correct the issues and gather data that will drive improvements in accessible parking and safer streets for all. It will be rolled one of the cities where Voi has trials, with plans for further expansion later in 2021.
“By partnering with Voi to enable anyone to capture evidence of damage or potential hazards, we hope to drive the shift from anti-social behaviour to a shared responsibility for our neighbourhoods and cities,” said Charlotte Bax, founder of Captur. “We believe that inclusive, open-access technology is the key to building trust — between operators, councils, and city-dwellers.”