It is not always so easy to know how to get around society when you have different disabilities. Sebastian Mutsson, CTO at the company Handiscover, wants to use user-generated data to improve accessibility information in society and the City of Malmö is first out.
The accessibility information that is available about places for example in a city comes primarily from the municipality and TD, the accessibility database. Sometimes the information is old and often incomplete, not least because there are so many different disabilities, with different prerequisites to get around in different environments.
– To increase transparency and accessibility information, we want to include users. There are over 120 million inhabitants in the EU who suffer from various disabilities, a large part of the population. Now we can give users the power to decide which information is right or wrong. It gives greater credibility and transparency, says Sebastian Mutsson.
Now they want to build a technical solution where users themselves can contribute with current and specific information about different places to the database. For example, mobile images that are uploaded. The pilot is carried out in Malmö, together with the city of Malmö, among others.
– Reality must be in line with the information provided by the accessibility of public environments. First, we contacted various interest groups to see if they could contribute, but they had no opportunity to scale up a solution like this. Previously, we have worked very operationally in the private sector where we have built a commercial product, but we also want to make something useful in the public sector.
The commercial product Sebastian mentions is Handiscovers, an online search service for accessible hotels and apartments worldwide, much like hotels.com.
– We are the first and largest community for people with disabilities that help them search, compare and book accessible accommodation all over the world.
Here, too, they do not rely solely on “official” information from the hotels themselves.
– We are part of a network of partners who deliver data to us. Much of the initial information was incorrect. We constantly received feedback from customers who pointed this out to us. Therefore, we built our own data and a control mechanism with the help of a quality assurance team, which checks that the submitted information is correct. We then classify the information based on disabilities and the level of accessibility needs.
Among other things, they collaborate with the booking service company Amadeus, which provides data for 160,000 unique hotels in the world. There are also 14-15,000 searchable apartments.
– Before our service was provided the most common way was to call each individual hotel for information, and it could take a long time to get an answer, says Sebastian.
The vision of Handiscover’s new service (Log This Place) which provides accessibility information in Malmö is that it will also contribute to increasing trust between authorities and citizens. Sebastian believes that there is a historical debt of confidence to bridge.
– During the 70s, they worked actively to create trust between citizens and society, but then this stopped. We want to build a bridge where we involve people with disabilities in the frame of society. Everyone wins. It is still 2021 and we have all sorts of tools, but at the moment we are not taking advantage of the opportunities that exist.
Why are you involved in this?
– I want to give something back to society and create something that has long-term viability. My parents are old. My dad has a double hip prosthesis and is a real hero, even though his physical ability is limited right now. For him and others around me, there is frustration over poor accessibility information.