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Neighbourhoods made accessible with crowd sourced data and map app that speaks

talking local government

Release Date: 12/04/2018

‘St Albans Unlocked’ is blazing a trail with huge potential benefits for the health and wellbeing of local communities.

Linda Chandler and Amanda Derrick are working with an app called Soundscape, developed by Microsoft to help people with visual impairments find their way from A to B.

Soundscape (an app which is free to download) describes for users the location and key facts about the road crossings, buildings and other landmarks around them as they move about. But it needs these to be marked accurately on Open Street Map, on which the app is built.

Volunteers in St Albans are adding data to OSM to ‘unlock’ the locality for Soundscape users. These need not only be people with visual impairments. The app could support anyone who finds getting around challenging (eg those with mild dementia), as well as being enjoyed by local residents and tourists alike.

For local authorities, a solution to the problem of maintaining information about local assets, that engages communities and supports vulnerable locals, has got to be worth exploring further.