Simply Business, one of the UK’s largest business insurance providers, has used its award-winning in-house tech capabilities to build a new voice-enabled programme that allows people with disabilities to map accessible routes around London.
The first of its kind feature has gone live on Google Home and Amazon Alexa. It has been integrated with Transport for London’s API to replicate the route planner instructions in a voice-enabled platform for those with accessibility issues.
While able-bodied people have been able to use voice recognition tools to plan their journeys before leaving the house, this innovation is the first to help those with disabilities find access-friendly routes via voice devices.
This project reflects Simply Business’ ethos and strategy to be a business for good. As well as winning Best Companies to Work For in the UK for two years running, Simply Business was last year accredited as a Benefit Corporation, joining the global B Corp movement which sets rigorous standards of ethical, environmental and social impact within business. As a partner for the children’s disability charity Whizz-Kidz and sponsor of the England Amputee Football Association, helping people with disabilities is important to every employee.
The team that developed the technology participated in a company-wide ‘create something better’ themed hackathon event to develop innovations that either improve services for customers, or have a positive impact on wider society.
Whizz-Kidz launched with a mission to transform the lives of disabled children by providing the equipment, support and life skills they need. The new technology has been welcomed by the charity as an essential tool that will improve the accessibility of young Londoners living with a disability, and supports the charity’s aim to ensure all young people have the chance to develop their full potential in life.
Beatriz Montoya, Hackathon Product Lead and Digital Marketing Director, Simply Business, said:
“For many people with disabilities, finding accessible travel routes around London is time-consuming and making the journey can be difficult. Through this project, we are aiming to both simplify the process and make it more enjoyable for disabled people to move around this great city. Simply Business is committed to making a positive contribution to wider society, as well as our business insurance customers, and this is one demonstration of how business can be a force for good.”
Ruth Owen OBE, Chief Executive Officer at Whizz-Kidz said:
“We are delighted to launch this programme as part of our ongoing partnership with Simply Business. Voice-assisted technology holds so much potential for people with disabilities and we are excited to be harnessing this power to help make journey planning in London that much easier for young wheelchair users and their families. As part of our Get on Board campaign, it has been our aim to improve the accessibility of public transport and we hope this tool will encourage more young disabled people to make use of the transport networks in the capital.”
About Simply Business
Launched in 2005, Simply Business provides an online brokerage service delivering policies tailored to individual business requirements. It has a team of UK based insurance specialists and employs almost 300 people across offices in London and Northampton.
Simply Business provides insurance to more than 425,000 UK SMEs and landlords and owing to its internal underwriting capability can cover over 1,000 trade types. It has been a Sunday Times Tech Track 100 company for the past three years and was recently named in the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA. Revenues have grown from £4.2 million in 2006, to £25.4 million in 2014, and the company has been named 2015 and 2016 winners of The Sunday Times’ Best Company to Work For.