Voice navigation helps London disabled

London-based insurtech firm Simply Business – regularly voted one of the UK’s best places to work – has deployed its in-house tech to create a new voice-enabled programme allowing people with disabilities to map accessible routes around the capital city.

Simply Business LogoSimply Business, the UK’s largest business insurance broker, has used its award winning in-house tech capabilities to build a new voice-enabled programme that allows people with disabilities to map accessible routes around London.

The firm, consistently voted as one of the best companies to work for in the UK, collaborated with young disability charity Whizz-Kids to build what it says is the “world-first” voice-enabled tool.

The feature, now live on Google Home and Amazon Alexa, has been integrated with Transport for London’s API to replicate the route planner instructions in a voice-enabled platform for those with accessibility issues.

While able-bodied people have been able to use voice recognition tools to plan their journeys before leaving the house, this innovation is the first to help those with disabilities find access-friendly routes via voice devices.

The team that developed the technology participated in a company-wide ‘create something better’ themed hackathon event to develop innovations that either improve services for customers, or have a positive impact on wider society.

Simply Business says the project reflects its ethos and strategy to be a for-good business. As well as winning Best Companies to Work For in the UK for two years running, the firm was last year accredited as a B Corp, adopting its standards of ethical, environmental and social impact within business.

Whizz-KidzfeaturedSimply Business digital marketing director and hackathon product lead Beatriz Montoya said: “For many people with disabilities, finding accessible travel routes around London is time-consuming and making the journey can be difficult. Through this project, we are aiming to both simplify the process and make it more enjoyable for disabled people to move around this great city.

“Simply Business is committed to making a positive contribution to wider society, as well as our business insurance customers, and this is one demonstration of how business can be a force for good.”

The firm has put disability support to the top of its responsibility agenda, backing Whizz Kidz and sponsoring the England Amputee Football Association.

Whizz-Kidz chief executive Ruth Owen said: ‘Voice-assisted technology holds so much potential for people with disabilities and we are excited to be harnessing this power to help make journey planning in London that much easier for young wheelchair users and their families.

“As part of our Get on Board campaign, it has been our aim to improve the accessibility of public transport and we hope this tool will encourage more young disabled people to make use of the transport networks in the capital.”

MyAgenda: former Simply Business chief executive Jason Stockwood