I’ve just finished reading this article ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21689940 ) by Rory Cellan-Jones and have just had one of those head in palm realisations where I can’t believe I didn’t even consider it sooner…! People walking around buildings with mapping backpacks on recording imagery for Google Street View – my instant thought: disabled access.
With Street Maps so well established now and with coverage of the majority of the UK, Google’s idea of providing ‘internal coverage’ of the interiors of buildings seems to me like the best idea I’ve heard of in a long time. I accept the invasion of privacy argument, particularly when entering buildings is involved – but could it not be like the revised organ donor notion: you are automatically ‘opted in’ unless you should choose to ‘opt out’ – that way, any business, organisation or private owner that does not want to be included, for whatever reason they may have, doesn’t need to be.
Whether or not Google’s new backpacks with lightweight recording equipment will already be positioned to enable it to show fine details, such as: the surface of pavements; the number of and height of steps into a building; the gradient of a ramp; and whether or not a automatic door opening button is placed at the entrance.
Not only would this new technology serve to show the access into a building, but it would also show the facilities inside a building: any lifts and the height of call buttons; any handrails on staircases; any disabled toilets and whether or not these require the use of a RADAR key.
Maybe I should give Google the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they’ve already considered us disabled folk – but again, perhaps not. And if not, I think opening their eyes to the potential this could have for at least a third of the population is unquestionable.