MEDIA RELEASE

26 September 2017

A world first initiative to help build a more accessible Aotearoa

On the 26 September 2017 CCS Disability Action, Christchurch City Council and Thundermaps signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which cements a collaboration set to revolutionise the reporting and enforcement of mobility parking abuse. The MOU was signed by CCS Disability Action’s Chief Executive David Matthews and Christchurch City Council’s Transport Operations Manager Aaron Haymes.

The agreement precedes the launch of the Access Aware app pilot on 1 October in Christchurch. This revolutionary app will connect people who encounter mobility parking misuse directly with Christchurch City Council’s Parking Enforcement Teams.

The world-first initiative will prove life-changing for Christchurch residents with access issues. “Our research shows that levels of parking abuse have not improved in ten years, with abuse rates still unacceptably high, despite increases in fines and attempts to grow awareness of the problem. Using a mobility parking space without a permit even ‘for just a minute’ can block a disabled person’s opportunity to live life freely,” explains CCS Disability Action Chief Executive David Matthews.

Put them in their place. Stop Mobility Parking abuse.

The Access Aware app allows users to see the locations of known mobility park locations on a map in real time so they can find a park when they need it. Users can also make a report of any parking misuse they observe. These parking misuse reports will be shared in real-time with Christchurch City Council’s enforcement officers. They will also be shared with Christchurch City Council’s Smart Cities Programme, so that their teams can monitor the use and abuse of parks.

Smart Cities Christchurch Programme Manager, Teresa McCallum, says that: “By combining the CCS Disability Action Access Aware app with our Smart Cities Christchurch Bluetooth sensor trial, we hope to get the most effective solution for

Christchurch mobility park users. We know that navigating Christchurch during the rebuild has been a significant challenge, and with this initiative, we are signalling to all mobility park users that Christchurch City Council is committed to providing an accessible city for all our citizens.

Using smart technology to understand how the community experiences the city’s mobility parking network, effectively enforcing parking misuse, and assisting CCS Disability Action to solve the problem of mobility parking permit abuse, we intend to make Christchurch a model city for a solution that can ultimately be implemented across NZ.”

By downloading and using the Access Aware app on their smartphone or tablet, users can make a real difference to the disabled community by actively creating social change. “We believe the data collected on parking abuse can influence the ways councils provide mobility parks and enforce them. Eventually we hope that this data can be used to advocate for the successful change of legislation so that both private and public mobility parks are enforced equally and consistently across the board,” says Mr. Matthews.

This is a bold vision, but a wholly worthwhile one totally in line with CCS Disability Action’s organisational values and commitments to disabled people and the creation of more inclusive communities.

New Zealand is a progressive, first-world country, and we should do better.

In 2018 CCS Disability Action will successively rollout this technology to their membership, networks and via their Mobility Parking permit-holders database as well as across the councils and businesses of Aotearoa.

The purpose of Access Aware is to drive change, not just for mobility park locations but also for other accessibility issues that our communities face. Currently there is no single place where you can easily access reliable data for access information New Zealand wide. Access Aware aims to change that with world first technology offering pre-mapped locations and information that will make accessing parking, communities, walkways, businesses, utilities, public conveniences and accommodation simple and easy. The app won’t just provide information, it will also allow users to upload reports and map relevant information themselves.

Access Aware has the potential to be very useful for all disabled people, their families and whānau in this country. Access Aware can significantly improve everyday access issues that prevent many people from fully participating in their communities. It’s free. It’s easy to use and it could help change the accessibility landscape in New Zealand.

People interested in taking part in the pilot are invited to download the free app on Google Play or Apple store by searching for 'Access Aware'. The pilot will run until 30 November 2017.

[ENDS]

For further information contact:

David Matthews
Chief Executive
CCS Disability Action
Phone: 0274 984 262
Email: David.Matthews@ccsDisabilityAction.org.nz

Jocelyn Ritchie
Media Manager
Christchurch City Council
Phone: 027 241 0244

Chief Executive David Matthews and Christchurch City Councils Transport Operations Manager Aaron Haymes

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