Talks@Google: AXSMap - Mapping the wheelchair accessibility of buildings and places

Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 31.08.2012

>>Eric: Hi and I just want to say it's an honor today to bring AXS Lab, to Google and
their featured project, Axis Map. And it's really about taking this idea of accessibility
and going out into the world and how to we make this more inclusionary environment. And
with that I actually want to give a quick introduction for each of our guests today.
First I'll actually introduce Jason. He's the founder of AXS Lab. He's also a director
even before this project. Some of his work has been featured at Sundance and HBO and
PBS. He is the founder and the kind of president of this initiative. And Alice is our executive
director. She graduated from Stanford in Environmental Engineering with a Masters and has been just
doing great ever since and really keeps this ship afloat here. And then, their newest member
today, Kevin Bluer, he been in web, mobile web development for ten years. Um, and it's
just ah a serial entrepreneur and we're luck to have him as a part of this team. So as
a little bit of background, I was introduced to these folks in early 2011 in New York City
as part of a technical incubator. And what I've loved to and responded to immediately
to this team, is this is a team that's taking data and maps and combining it with story
telling. And that is an incredibly powerful combination. And they're using this together
to really try to make a difference in the world. So I'm honored to bring them here today
so you can hear their story, their journey and see some of their initial results. And
I'm also to happy to note that they are in part funded by Sundance and other groups who
are also Google and, the Google earth outreach developer grant as well. So with that, give
them a round of applause and we'll turn over the mic.
[Applause] >>Jason: Thanks Eric. My name is Jason DeSilva.
I'm the creator of AXS Map. >>Alice: And I'm Alice Cook the producer of
AXS Map. >>Kevin: And I am Kevin Bluer, the lead developer
of of AXS Map. >>Jason: So let's just jump right in. So this
may be a surprising statistic but actually one out six people have a disability of some
kind. I happen to be one of those people. I have primary progressive multiple sclerosis.
I was diagnosed in 2005 and I saw over the course of 7 years I've gone from walking just
fine to using a cane to a walker to a wheelchair to a scooter where I am today. And you know
I'm a documentary filmmaker, as Eric said. I've been working as a documentary filmmaker
for 10 -15 years now. I made films on PBS on HBO, I had a film with Sundance, so it
was natural for me, I decided to take the camera and turn it on myself and make a film.
The film is called 'When I Walk' it was picked up by PBS. It'll be broadcasting on PBS next
year and it really goes through and shows my whole journey. The, actually the making
of AXS Map is in the film, so that's the connection here. So let's go ahead and show a preview
of the film. [Film]
>>Female 1: I couldn't imagine my son being a depressed person, because he has always
been up and about laughing and smiling. He was just walking weird across the street,
walking, crossing the street at an angle. >>Jason: We have a diagnosis, you have multiple
sclerosis. >>Female 1: At least we can postpone him being
in a wheelchair and the doctor just looked at us point blank and said 'No, he will be
in a wheelchair soon'. >>Male 1: We will have problems that are consistent.
>>Male 2: Even normal people have patterns that aren't quite as repeatable.
>>Jason: it was frustrating. Multiple sclerosis was taking over my life. I'm gonna do to do
everything in my power to make sure that doesn't happen.
[Music] >>Female 1: When you think your life is bad
think of situations like this. >>Male 3: Everything in your mind.
[Multiple voices] [Man breathing]
>>Jason: Getting a tattoo is nothing compared to MS. It's just like child's play. We all
have different struggles, but they're more similar than we think.
[Music] >>Jason: So this is my neighborhood in the
east Village before I was diagnosed with MS you can find me waking up, going for brunch
some place, I catch lunch or dinner at a restaurant with a friend. I'd go to a bar or a club at
night, I believed the whole world, the world was my oyster and New York was my playground.
You know and then I got MS and then I started slowly having trouble walking. So as my walking
faded my neighborhood faded and then my community involvement faded as well. So during this
time I was inspired with the idea of AXS Map and that's that's what happened, so what I'm
going to do now is show you, I'm just going jump right in, show you a little animation
all about AXS map. [Film]
>>Jason: Hi! My name is Jason and I use a scooter to get around. It's not so easy. I
have trouble going to stores, finding bathrooms that are accessible and meeting up with friends.
[Phone ringing] >>Jason: Of course I can call ahead but many
places say they're accessible, but really they're not. There has to be a better way.
So I had an idea. What if everyone could share all the accessible places they know? And what
if all this was put on one map? And that map was available on the web and mobile phones?
I call it AXS Map. In the online and mobile app where anyone can search for accessible
places, or view them on their entry ways or bathrooms. AXS Map opens up a whole new world
of choices and I can instantly find all the accessible places around. Where to eat, shop,
grab a coffee or get a haircut. Even if you're not in a wheelchair you're invited to give
ratings and contribute. AXS map is powered by you. The more you review, the better it
gets. For people with canes, walkers or wheelchairs, even moms and dads with strollers. AXS Map
is your ticket to mobility freedom. It's easy and free to use. Help make this world a more
inclusive one. Join the movement today. Check it out.
[Music] >>Jason: Thanks now I'm going to pass it over
to Kevin Bluer who's the lead technologist for the project.
>>Kevin: Thanks Jason. Hi everyone, as mentioned my name's Kevin Bluer the lead developer on
AXS Map. So I'm just going to go through a few things. I'm going to start with a quick
walk through of what we've built so far. And then I'm going to take a step back just to
show some of the design decisions we've made, in kind of building the product, talk briefly
through the API and so on. Then, jump to the kind of future, talk about kind of some of
the upcoming releases, and some of the concepts we'd like to you know put in, medium to long
term. Kay so this is the home screen of AXS Map going to go from the top down, you can
kind of see the two, the two search boxes. On the left, the venues, some of the examples
Jason mentioned, cafe restaurant bar, etc. On the right you can put in the location,
so your zip, post code or street, whatever. And then, the middle for now we've just got
the video which you saw was pretty nice it kind of tells Jason's story pretty well, it
kind of frames what the application or the platform is about. We may change that over
time, but you know it's there right now, on the right we've got just categories, so you
can kind of jump right into a specific place. This is the search results screen, so after
you've done a search on the left you've just got the stars, the other attributes which
we'll come on to in a moment. The two ratings you saw, as you saw in the animation are getting
in, which is obviously fundamental. If you can't get into a place then you know nothing
else really matters. Beneath that we've got restrooms, once you are inside, you know if
you need to know how accessible the restrooms are, then that's there. There kind of two,
what we found to be two most important measures. On the right hand side we've got Google map,
which is great that's very high level on Manhattan right now, but obviously typically you'd zoom
in a lot lower than that. This is a venue page, so again, the two measures there and
then we've got a bunch of other attributes which I'll come on to in a moment. In the
top right we've actually got the Google street view imbedded which is a great service and
I know Jason and Alice would use that and still do use that before going out to a venue.
So now it's imbedded right in the place. And the actually graphic up there you can just
see, I've just zoomed in on a step. So it's just as an example, it's a pretty useful tool
just determining that. Below that we've got the aerial view and below all that we've got
the ratings from the individual contributors, so you know any additional comments and stuff,
you know pretty straightforward. This is adding a review, so again the same measure as you
saw in the animation there. It's kind of nice, kind of big chunky icons you know very visual,
very easy just to click the stars. Now the attributes, we've got going from left to right
and these are just kind of ones you light up, so if they're kind of binary, if their
applicable. So you know we've the spaciousness of the venue, kind of traversable inside the
venue, we've then got the quiet, so the volume inside the venue, whether there's disabled
parking, whether they've got a disabled ramp, or sort of a ramp for getting up, getting
up stairs if they have stairs. We then have a second entryway as well, so whether there's
an entryway that's not visible, you know, from the primary entryway. And then on the
far right where there's Braille, so again if there's Braille on the menu, Braille menu
on the signs and so on. And below that we've got comments, so just you know if there's
any sort of tips or quirks about the venue, that are not covered in those above, you know
attributes, you can add additional things there. I was going to quickly show you a video
the guys have put together on how to rate, which is kind of quirky and gives you a bit
of insight, a bit more detail on the rating system.
[Film] [Music]
>>Jason: Hi my name is Jason. I'm the founder of AXS Map. Today we're going to give you
some tips on giving reviews. So, let's hit the street.
>>Alice: Hi I'm AXS map scout Alice. Today Jason's asked me to give a review. I'm just
about to stop here for a bite to eat. So let's take a look. So as you can see this place
is kind of amazing for accessibility. Huge entryway, totally flat, no lip here whatsoever
and no heavy door for anybody to open. I'm going to give this place five stars. So now
that we're inside I'm going to check a couple other features. The first thing I'm going
to check is, is it spacious? This is spacious is really spacious. Tap here to vote yes for
spacious. The other thing I'm checking to see if it's it really quiet. It's a really
great place, it's at the height of brunch but it still the volume isn't too loud. So
I'm going to tap quiet. Now lets go check out the bathrooms. In this place, like the
entryway looks amazing. The key is the door opens out. It gives enough space for someone
using a wheelchair and an assistant to get inside. Notice that it has a bar here and
two bars, key, having two bars. The toilet is a decent height. The sink is a little high,
but I'm still giving it five stars. And that's it, that's my review. So that was fun. I also
had lunch and the food here happens to be amazing. So let's check out another place
and give another review. [Music]
>>Alice: Ok so I'm going to stop in this shop. Looks like there's one step. I'm going give
it a two stars. But first I'm going to check to see if they have a portable ramp, if they
have portable ramp I'll give it four stars. Let's go inside. Ok so I just asked the shop
owner and they don't have a ramp, so I've gotta give it two stars. So Jason has another
scout out giving reviews today, let's check in with him.
>>Steve: Hi I'm AXS map scout Steve. And I'm out giving reviews today. So I'm at this Laundromat.
So you can see it's got two steps, so I'm going to give that a one star rating. So this
place's got one step, so I'm going to give a two, before I do I want to check to see
if it's got maybe a portable ramp, or if it's got an alternative entrance. Ok so they just
told me there's an secondary entrance around the back so let's go back and check it out
and see how good it is. Ok, so you can see they've got an accessible door right here,
so it's not clear from the outside, so I wouldn't this a five, so I'm going to give this place
a four star rating. So this place has got one step, but I checked
inside but they've actually got a ramp, so we're going to get it out and see what it
looks like. Beautiful! Great! I'm going to give this place four stars.
Ok so I stopped at a hardware store and they actually do have a ramp, but it's a bit steep,
so instead of four I'm going to give it a three star.
>>Jason: So that was some examples of how to give reviews. Just to recap, that was a
one, that was a two, that was a three, the portable ramp was four and that was a five.
Keep in mind there is no wrong answer. And think like you're using a wheelchair or a
scooter. And have fun! [Music]
>>Kevin: Ok, so just continuing with some of the screens we put together just to give
you that insight. This is some screen shots from the mobile apps we have. As you can see
it's kind of consistent with the design and style that we put together for the main web.
Bigger emphasis on kind of categories. Also taking the [inaudible] obviously I haven't
got a map screen up there, but you know it will hone in based on where you are of course.
Ah, and then just on the right hand side there, you can see the rating of the venue again
consistent with the rest of the app. Just taking a step back, designed like as we saw
started building it we had just sort of bunch of goals in mind. So they, you know, were
kind of obvious emphasis on simplicity and ease of use of course. And broad appeal, you
saw in animation you know trying to cover a range of use cases obviously. In Jason's
case being in a scooter right through to anyone, being a Mum with a stroller and it was kind
of everything in between. From the interface perspective you've seen the kind of colors
there. We went for white on black, big fonts bigger icons. So just again a big emphasis
on ease of use. I actually worked with a few different designers as well as including a
fellow Googler, Rick Farrell, so I want to say thanks to him for some of his insights
which were great. and these are some actually screen shots, or some wire frames we put together,
some mock ups, jury you know before we actually started any building and we made these interactive.
Which was great for, Jason and I to actually kind of play around and move around within
the app, obviously a pure simulation. Did that for the main web too. And then on the
right hand side there you can see the the kind of actual first mock up we got put together
for the mobile web version. Terms of API and data, on the back end we're
using Google places API which has been great. As you saw as well obviously using Google
maps and street view, you know it's great, really really good services and to be honest
we couldn't have built this without some of those. In terms of the data we'll kind of
recapture and augment on top. It's been kind of interesting balance and we've seen it as
a journey, not a destination in so much that we try to get the balance between you know
capturing the relevant information, you know to make and to allow someone to determine
whether it is accessible but not over burdening reviewers as well. So you know asking someone
to ok give me fifty different attributes when you're adding a review. So we're trying to
strike that balance and we certainly welcome feedback on that. And some points towards
the end and how you can give that feedback. And finally in terms of our AP- We've built
an API as well. Right now our apps consuming that API and over time we intend to, well
right now as of right now open that up to anyone else who wants to interesting in consuming
the data that we capture. From a build perspective I'm not going to go into any depth here at
all, it's just for those who are technical in the audience this is a technology stack
that we've used. In terms of testing we've actually worked
through, obviously Jason and then other members of the community to get feedback out of it
and again you know very much intend to do that as we you know evolve the app. And again
just to reiterate throughout the talk, the rest of the talk about getting feedback from
yourselves would be fantastic. So in terms of upcoming release it's kind
of live today, which is literally, like today is almost the launch of the first iteration,
beyond that you know very soon we've got a new interaction coming which is going to have
photo uploads to allow people to take photos of you know key things in and around the venues.
So be that outside the doorway or the restrooms, which again to add that kind of visual layer
on top which would be great. And richer filters as well so you can actually do a search for
something like show me the available you know restaurants in my area that have Braille menus
for example. We got an android app coming really really soon too. And then obviously
incremental sort of tweaks and fixes. And then bigger picture, just an insight into
some of the sort of more conceptual things we'd like to do, going from left to right,
getting gamification is something we'd been exploring, so adding kind of incentivization
mechanics and getting mechanics on top to actually encourage people to add reviews.
The middle visualization as well, so you know as we build this data set, actually adding
visualization layers on top so you can answer kind of questions and there's one up in there.
How accessible is my city? Or that could be how accessible is my neighborhood or my state
or whatever. So some interesting things we could certainly start exploring there. And
on the far right we've got augmented reality, so just different interfaces on top of the
data sets. We've just got a quick mock up which I'll show you now, which is pretty nice
about how this could work. >>Jason: Just just to give some personal context
is really I'm having trouble with my hands right now it would be really great to be able
to hold up my phone to just see all the places around me that are accessible.
>>Kevin: yeah that's cool stuff and as we were talking with Eric about the Google glasses
another cool thing would be maybe add in on down the line. Ah so with that I'm going to
hand over to Alice Cook who is the producer for AXS Maps to talk a bit about the future.
>>Alice: Thanks. So when I'm not out scouting for Jason I'm producing AXS Map, and first,
so yeah and I'm going to cover the future in terms of how we're going to engage community
and how we're really going to get data into the app. So Jason founded a non-profit three
years ago called AXS Lab. Our mission is to supercharge the disability movement, disability
rights movement, to engage audiences, to playfully explore the disability experience, story is
important to us as Eric said in the beginning and kind of the mission behind the mission
is to make the world a more compassionate, inclusive and enriching place. So the first
two big initiatives of AXS Lab are the, Jason's film "When I Walk" and then, of course, AXS
Map. so one of the ways we think we're fulfilling our mission with AXS Map is is trying to give
disab- a fresh identity for disability. So everyone's familiar with this symbol on the
left is the international symbol for wheelchair accessibility, it references the hospital
blue, sort of the medical model of the disability identity and so we want for AXS Map we wanted
a new identity that reflected the crowd source, the empowered community of disability. So
the idea was to use you know a strong yellow and give it a sportier, more youthful, just
a fresher identity for disability. So these are our funders. We're so proud to be working
with such a prestigious group of funders. Google Earth as Eric mentioned, helped fund
us, and that grant was administered by the Tides Foundation. Our largest supporters are
actually a prestigious foundation in New York called the Nathan Cummings Foundation. They're
really movers and shakers in the philanthropy world. They called AXS Map their Jeremy Lin
of philanthropic endeavors. So we are really proud to be working with them. Fledgling Fund
is another, is behind us, and of course, Finance and PBS are behind the film "When I walk."
so the future of AXS Map, how we are going to engage communities. the first thing is
really populating the database. Because it's not going to be a useful tool until we get
a lot of data in. And that way we're going to be doing that is by holding community mapping
days. So I'll tell you a little bit about that. We're also going to be encourage accessibility.
We want to encourage business owners to become accessible if their not already accessible.
And then the last one, we think that the thing that's really going to coalesce this as a
movement is really about sharing stories and gathering stories from the community. So for
business owners we're going to offering window stickers. This is like our first way of engaging
business owners. And we think this is really, going to be a fun way for business owners
to distinguish themselves. They can put this in the window to show any wheelchair users
passing by that they are accessible. Maybe that their main entryway isn't but they have
an alternative entrance. The other really great thing is that is a form of market distinction.
So they can show that they're socially responsible and this is something they care about. so
our mapping days, our first mapping day was actually last year, May 12, 2011. and that
went well, but we were just using clipboards and going out across Brooklyn. So what happens
on a mapping day we bring together a group of volunteers, they meet in one place, we
form teams and then they fan out across a neighborhood, exploring the neighborhood on
foot and inputting reviews on accessibility. And one of the really fun things we're doing
on our mapping days is letting participants test drive a scooter. And I think able body
participants test drive a scooter just to experience what it's like to navigate the
world using a scooter. So the vision is, in the next year we would have fif- we're working
to set up partnerships with big non- national non-profits to set up mapping days so we'd
have- This is a mock up that would be a page on the site to show there'd be 50 mapping
days all across the country and you could look here to find a mapping day near you to
get engaged. The other thing we think is important is this is that, this is a grassroots sort
of movement and that individuals can lead their own mapping days. And actually we've
already had some people reaching out to us who want to host their own mapping day. Which
is really exciting, and actually it was just two weeks ago a student from upstate New York
named Matthew reached out to us and said that he wanted to lead a mapping day, we had a
chance to video chat with him, just a few days ago and so we're going to share that
video chat with you with Matthew. >>Matthew: [computer voice] Hi my name is
Matthew Ballow; I'm almost 18 years old. I am from Clarence, New York which is a town
outside of Buffalo. I go to school at Clarence Senior High. I like to read and watch movies.
I also like to play computer games and board games. I also like to go to the mall near
my house, bowling at my local bowling alley and out to different restaurants. AXS Map
could give me more freedom, because it would help me know in advance what places in my
community I would be able to go. Where I can drive myself around. It is important to me
to be independent. I need a lot of help with my daily tasks but one thing I can do all
by myself is drive and operate my wheelchair. I think AXS Map will help both people in wheelchairs
and people who are with people who are in wheelchairs. Personally it is frustrating
when I cannot get around some place for both me and whoever is with me. I would like to
lead a mapping day. I think it will be fun to travel around my community and see where
I can go. I also would like to do this because it will help other people in my community
who are in a wheelchairs and face the same challenges I do when they want to go out.
Nice to meet you. >>Alice: So that's Matthew and we're so excited
that he reached out to us and we think it's a great example of how individuals can step
up and lead up mapping days. And we also think his story is a great story for showing why
accessibility matters. When you have such great challenges and for Matthew the one thing
he can really do is drive and operate his wheelchair, it means a lot when he can he
can get in a business or a restaurant. So on that note, we're actually having a mapping
day this Saturday in San Francisco and we're inviting Googlers to attend. It's near Soma
at the 155 Ninth Street. The time 12:15 you can RSVP to Jason if you're interested. Really
thank you to Eric for coordinating this and a thank you to our other supporters, the Google,
Google Earth team, Tanya Birch and Raleigh Seamster have been really supportive of the
project and I think we could open it up to questions. Yeah.
[Clapping] >>Alice: Thank you.