The concept of driverless cars excites some and terrifies others. But it is the technology and big business behind it that perhaps we should be concerned about. David Wilson writes in The Fifth Estateabout this issue. He alerts us to the size and influence of tech giants and how they can utilise the data they can collect. He provides a table of vehicle enhancements and the time it took or is taking for the market to fully embrace them. The other factor is that vehicle components will change from the current 90% hardware and 10% software to 40% hardware, 40% software, and 20% app providers that link the two together. The article goes on to the important issue of governance. He concludes the article with, “The question is: will the loss of our familiar manual cars be a benefit for humanity, or are we heading towards an Orwellian future where a concentration of high-tech global “fangs” manipulate and control our lives, minimising government regulators to toothless tigers?” Worth a read because this is part of the AI revolution that we will all have to deal with sooner or later and we need to make sure it is inclusive.The title of the articleis, Driverless cars: benefit to humanity or road to an Orwellian dystopia?
Last week, The Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF) met in South Australia and one item on the agenda was providing minimum accessibility standards for housing in the National Construction Code. The BMF is part of COAG. This is the excerpt from the Communique:
“The BMF agreed the ABCB Accessible Housing Options Paper (Options Paper) be used for broad stakeholder consultations about options for the inclusion of minimum accessibility standards for housing in the NCC. The Options Paper is expected to be released in September 2018, with the expectation of commencing a Regulatory Impact Statement in the first quarter of 2019.”
Kieran O’Donnell from the Australian Building Codes Board will be presenting at the Universal Design Conference in Brisbane 4-5 September. If you want to get ahead of the curve it would be worthwhile attending.
Tthe Australian Network on Universal Housing Design (ANUHD) has been heavily lobbying the BMF to get this on the agenda. ANUHD will be calling on organisations and individuals to show some people-power and respond to the options paper when it comes out next month. See more in the Government News on this important topic.
Is it time to retire the word “retirement”? Does it have the same meaning now as it did 30-40 years ago? Ending paid work, especially if it wasn’t enjoyable, makes the idea of a permanent holiday a dream come true. But is it? For those who are not the retiring type, the notion of being on holiday for up to 40 years is not something they relish. They want to keep going past the nominated pensionable age. So this area has no one-size-fits-all solutions. But one thing common to all, is having the ability to get out and about and access everyday activities and be welcome everywhere, and to have a home that accommodates issues of ageing. That is, let’s have more universal design rolled out so we can have the choice to do what we want as we age. The BBC webpage has an interesting story about a 106 year old man who continues his medical work on a voluntary basis. Examples of centenarians still working include a barber, who has beencutting people’s hair for 95 years, and aYouTube star aged 107, who teaches her million followers how to cook dishes such as fried emu egg.
Hospitals can be distressing places at the best of times. If you have dementia or other cognitive condition it can be a frightening and disorienting place whether a patient or a visitor. Stressed patients stay longer and need more medication.Taking a universal design approach can provide a better experience. Academic research and consumer input underpins this comprehensive guide to designing dementia-friendly hospitals from a universal design approach. In Ireland, where the guide was developed, they estimate almost one third of patients have dementia and as the population ages this will increase. Of course, dementia friendly design using a UD approach is good and inclusive for everyone. The guidelines are available to read online using Issuu software.
Below is a short video that provides an overview of the design factors that need to be considered in creating a dementia friendly hospital.
There is also a media release that provides an overview of the development of the guidelines and the project partners.
Michael Small’s Churchill Fellowship report tracks and compares discrimination laws and industry practice in relation to public buildings. He questions whether the control of the Access to Premises Standard is falling more into the hands of industry as Human Rights Commission resources are becoming increasingly constrained. Three of his recommendations are: that more training is needed for industry to help them understand the standards; more flexibility is needed for building upgrades; and better systems are needed for compliance enforcement and auditing. The title of his report is, Ensuring the best possible access for people with disability to existing buildings that are being upgraded or extended. The countries visited and compared are Canada, United States of America, Ireland and United Kingdom.
Ever wondered what the long term effects of a home modification are? A longitudinal study from the UK shows that household improvements in social housing can reduce risk of hospital stays, particularly in older people. While the study picks up major improvements in chest and heart health, it also found that falls and burns were reduced too. Over the ten years of the study, they found that homes that were modified and upgraded correlated with reduced hospital events. That means savings in the health budget or beds freed up for other patients. Obviously it is better for occupants too. It is not clear how poor the condition of the housing was prior to the upgrade or modification relative to Australian housing. This is an academic paper outlining the methods and comparing to other studies, but the discussion and conclusions give you the take-home message – health and the quality and design of housing quality are related and should be integrated in policy-making and planning.
One key finding was: “Using up to a decade of household improvements linked to individual level data, we found that social housing quality improvements were associated with substantial reductions in emergency hospital admissions for cardiovascular conditions, respiratory conditions, and fall and burn injuries.”
The title of the study is, “Emergency hospital admissions associated with a non-randomised housing intervention meeting national housing quality standards: a longitudinal data linkage study”. Sarah Rodgers et al. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
How do you know if your action plan for accessibility and universal design is actually being implemented? The Norwegian Government’s action plan to be universally designed by 2025 now has a tool to monitor progress to see how it is working. A standardised method to collect and measure data nationally has been trialled. The first results show that Norway still “faces many challenges to meet the government’s goals for Universal Design”. Data were collected on buildings and major facilities such as transport hubs, walkways, cycleways and car parks. Different techniques were used and discussed in the article, “Mapping Norway – a Method to Register and Survey the Status of Accessibility“. The authors conclude that while their system is not perfect due to the need to fully standardise and simplify complex data, they believe it will be valuable to municipal and recreational planners and developers. The article and others can be found in the Proceedings of the International Cartographic Association.
If you want to know what people think about accessible housing, the findings from a recent surveywill give you a good idea. With the prospect of a Regulatory Impact Assessment of accessible housing on the horizon this is a timely report. There are four narratives that frame the report: the housing industry view; the government view; prospective buyers’ view; and the perspective of people who need mainstream accessible housing. The survey was initiated by Australian Network on Universal Housing Designand the data were collated, analysed and discussed by Courtney Wright and Jacinta Colley from Griffith University. It is a lengthy but detailed report. Essential reading for anyone interested in this topic and/or who wants to know the history behind the universal design in housing campaign that goes back nearly 20 years. Dr Courtney Wright will be presenting the findings at the 3rd Australian Universal Design Conference in Brisbane 4-5 September.
Comprehensive Universal Design is a concept from India. It refers to the classic principles of universal design, concepts of sustainability, and culture, that is, a “country-centric approach which considers poverty, caste, class, religion, background both rural and urban”. A Conceptual Framework for Barrier Free Hotels in Smart Citiescovers most of the basics written in many other papers about universal design, links it to the hotel and tourism industry and all the economic benefits that can bring. Weaving in cultural aspects such as poverty and religion takes universal design thinking another inclusive step forward. The article proposes a conceptual framework to explain.
Abstract: Cities are key for business, Job creation, and the growth of society. The Government of India planned to develop smart cities which are sustainable, inclusive and act as a reference for other aspiring cities. Smart cities in India will work on four principles such as wellbeing of habitants, equity, foresight and efficiency. Existing laws and design principles can act as a hurdle in achieving the four principles laid down. The principles of Universal Design (UD) are user centric, work on the social goals of inclusion, equality and independence. Universal Design India Principle (UDIP) is a set of design principles that focus on a country centric approach which considers culture, caste, poverty, class, and religion. There is an overwhelming need for environmentally sustainable designs for hospitality services. Considering the current requirements, a conceptual framework ‘Comprehensive Universal Design (CUD)’ has been proposed which includes principles of UD, UDIP and environmental sustainability. Adopting comprehensive universal design principles in the hotels in smart city will help the planners to realise equity, quality of life, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.
Emily Steel has written a thoughtful piece about how the thrust of Australia’s National Disability Strategy is languishing while everyone focuses on one small part of it – the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). She argues that the NDIS runs the risk of further marginalising people because it is still treating people with disability as needing special (that is, separate non-mainstream) treatment. This is where the concepts of universal design come to the fore. Yes, some people will need specialised equipment as part of experiencing inclusion, but that equipment doesn’t make for inclusion unless the person can use the equipment to merge into the mainstream. For example, a person with paraplegia needs both a wheelchair and a step-free entry to buildings. One is no good without the other. The good thing is that a step-free entry is good for everyone – inclusive universal design. Only a small percentage of people with disability will qualify for the NDIS and this is also why we need universal design – for everyone, including people with and without NDIS packages. See Emily’s article for some good points on this issue. Emily will be speaking at the 3rd Australian Universal Design Conference. She is Senior Lecturer, School of Health & Wellbeing at University of Southern Queensland.