Researchers from Global Disability Innovation Hub, a London-based not-for-profit platform for academicians and researchers to create innovations for differently-abled, including a team each from University College London (UCL) and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi are developing wheelchair-accessible maps of Delhi called Street Rehab.
Under the project, students are understanding user needs, available technology and the accessibility of the city. Low-cost sensors are being identified to check how wheelchairs or tri-cycle users can propel themselves through a particular road. These sensors are connected to a user’s mobile phone.
The app will also guide users using voice notes and geo-tagged photos.
The researchers have collaborated with NGOs to talk to wheelchair users from across the community (across economic and social sectors). Based on the needs and feedback, the project has been developed further.
“Infrastructure in India can often make pushing a wheelchair or tricycle difficult. We are trying to identify how people are currently getting around in Delhi, to find new ways of facilitating rehabilitation and identifying ways to improve infrastructure,” said Catherine Holloway, the academic director of the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub).
Anonymous data from the participants’ sensors have helped create a map of accessibility in parts of Delhi.
The research team is now continuing the project to develop a larger dataset of the wheelchair accessibility of Delhi, to then identify what needs to be improved and to deliver a service to wheelchair users to aid in their rehabilitation.
The Street Rehab project has a £10 million (roughly 92.62 crore) worth funding by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), called AT2030.
The GDI Hub’s AT2030 project is expanding into Nairobi, Kenya, this year, and the team is in discussions with colleagues in Delhi to explore opportunities for an innovation hub in India.
AT2030 seeks to reach at least 3 million people, develop new technologies and service delivery models, spark dozens of start-ups and opportunities for investment and innovation to help people living with disabilities.