Gateway Navigation is a Vancouver-based Community Contribution Company (CCC) dedicated to improving the accessibility of interior spaces for members of the blind and visually impaired community in Canada. Just as smart phone-based GPS has made exterior navigation easier for everyone, so Gateway supports wireless, beacon-based network solutions that will make complex buildings, such as airports, transit hubs, and shopping malls accessible to all those who cannot read signage or interpret other visual wayfinding cues.
Working with partners in the United Kingdom, the United States and Israel, Gateway is positioned to become a centre of excellence for location-based navigation services in Canada. Unlike GPS, which was made available through a network of pre-existing satellites launched by national governments and space agencies, interior navigation systems of a similar kind must be established one facility at a time.
The most fundamental requirement is for a universal language or protocol, to ensure the best user experience. That promotes compatibility between smart phone navigation apps, and the beacons or other location-based systems with which they need to communicate. The creation of this universal language is currently the focus of, government and UN, sponsored projects underway in the United States and Europe.
Meantime, in the United Kingdom, , , Transport for London has completed and expanded pilot projects for accessible audio indoor navigation in London’s Pimlico and Euston Underground Stations. In which each beacon transmits an unique identifier to any Bluetooth enabled smartphones within the immediate vicinity. Once detected by the smartphone an app provides audio digital information regarding the user’s surroundings. Even without a universal protocol, approximately 250 similar installations have been completed in the Middle east and Eastern Europe.
Our goal is to adapt these systems to the Canadian context, by developing a multi-lingual application that will serve the needs of our multicultural communities, and the many international visitors we welcome each year..
Our vision is to draw on the many talents of the blind and visually impaired community, providing employment opportunities in areas such as programming, consulting services and administration.
Together, through partnership and collaboration, we will build the accessible and inclusive communities of tomorrow - today.