By Cristian Xavier Tapia Vargas, Technician for the Technological Development Management Office of the Ministry of Mobility, Quito

Why are more accessible and inclusive sidewalks important for people with disabilities in the cities?

Sometimes we forget to think about people with special needs unless it happens to us or a close family member. Just imagining what a person in a wheelchair has to go through to get onto a sidewalk with a high curb makes us reflect that not all of us can get to enjoy the same benefits. That is why sidewalks with better access should be modified or implemented in all cities around the world, so that this vulnerable portion of society can walk freely without fear of suffering any kind of accident.

Why is this AI project for Inclusive Mobility so important to your city?

This project is of particular importance because it collects information from different strategic points around the city. This is very useful for people who has some kind of disability, as they can be informed and know which routes they can take or where it is safer to move around.

Why are you pleased to participate in the Project and which efforts make you feel pleased to be partnering with G3ict on the University of Washington’s OpenSidewalks project?

Partaking in this project fills me with great joy, as we contribute to promoting inclusive mobility in various cities around the world which, in the future, will allow people with disabilities to move around without the enormous effort they currently make and even more safely. The OpenSidewalks project will be the basis for many other projects that will improve the lives of this vulnerable group of people who are so valuable to society.

Any remarks or personal experience you deem relevant for the project?

In the course of mapping various areas, I came across several particular things in the middle of the sidewalks. Be it an electric pole, surveillance cameras, fire hydrants, sinkholes, etc. This poses not only a danger, but also an inadequacy for the mobility of several blind people or people in wheelchairs. These particularities should be corrected by moving these obstacles to the side or, in the case of sinkholes, by filling in the ground or building a bypass to avoid this obstruction.