“The Accessible Kazakhstan” app shows the level of accessibility of public places in the city for people with disabilities, pregnant women, and people with children. It is an interactive map where you can see whether the entrances to buildings have handrails, how convenient the ramps are and whether there is parking nearby. The map helps to compare facilities in advance and choose the safest one.
Users can also enter information about a new bank or café into the map themselves. For example, Yerlan Kurmangazin, a resident of Pavlodar, suffered a spinal injury about 20 years ago and had not been able to move around since then. However, the online map gives him an opportunity to stay active and help others in doing so: the man has entered data on the places he had visited earlier.
"If I need to go somewhere I just open my laptop, go to the website, see if it's accessible, read the descriptions, look at the photos and then work out in my head whether I can go alone. This is very convenient," – says Yerlan.
The Accessible Kazakhstan project started back in 2015 and at that time it only contained data on the city of Pavlodar. Now, thanks to the support of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Astana Hub, the platform brings together 15 NGOs and 500 volunteers across the country, and the map provides information on the accessibility of 21,737 places in 22 cities in Kazakhstan. The programming team has placed the source code of the online map in an open repository on GitHub. This will help deploy a similar project in another country, which in turn will improve the standard and quality of life of people on a more global level.
Because the project is open source, like Wikipedia, it was able to pass the UN-approved Digital Public Goods (DPG) Alliance and join a global registry, open to the world. Recognition as a DPG increases the visibility, support and visibility of open source projects that have the potential to solve global problems.
To become a DPG, all projects must meet a standard that ensures that they truly adhere to the principles of open source. The registry operates on a one-stop-shop principle that provides access to open digital technologies: applications, data visualization tools, educational programs, with minimal requirements for their free adaptation and use. Such non-profit projects aimed at improving people's lives help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and are therefore supported by the United Nations.
"Accessible Kazakhstan has the extremely important goal of providing a barrier-free environment for everyone regardless of needs or abilities. The project doesn't just map facilities, it brings together a large team of like-minded people and promotes an accessible and safe environment for children and people with disabilities," – said Leticia Buzzy-Vale, Deputy Representative of UNICEF in Kazakhstan.
"We got the Digital Public Good Certificate, our Accessible Kazakhstan project was added to the DPG register of the Digital Public Goods Alliance. We are the first in Kazakhstan to receive such a certificate. For us, recognition as a digital public good, defined as open source software, open data and open content, means we can scale our interactive accessibility map to other countries. We don't stop there, we keep working,"– commented the Accessible Kazakhstan team.