Innovating Mapping Technology: A Mission Built on the Experience of the Blind; Jose Gaztambide, CEO, GoodMaps; Louisville, Kentucky 

PRESIDENT RICCOBONO: Thank you very much, Monique.  Stronger together. We appreciate you and we love making good trouble.  Keep up the great work. We look forward to working with you on these projects in the future. We have a number of technology folks coming up so I want to jump right to them.  Because we are running behind. Our next individual has not been on the stage before.  He is the CEO of GoodMaps.  He's trying to lead a progressive effort to build a company that has accessibility at its core.  That partly comes from its roots, growing out of the American printing house for the blind and the leadership there.  It also comes from what he brings to the effort.  I have to tell you, federationists, he did skip his first meeting with the federation which was prepandemic.  He didn't come.  Just didn't show up.  But of course, he had a good excuse.  He was getting ready for the birth of his son.

So I haven't actually had the opportunity to meet him in person.  But I've been on many a meeting with him.  He has embraced the spirit of the organized blind movement here to talk to us about the work of his company is Jose Gaztambide.

if there's a place you need to know, I'm the one you need to know
I'm the map
I'm the map, I'm the map

JOSE GAZTAMBIDE: Thank you so much, President Riccobono.  I had heard stories of the intro music.  I had no idea what to expect.  Thank you so much for having me.  This as President Riccobono mentioned is my first time addressing the convention.  It is a real honor and a real thrill to be here with you guys.

This is likely your first time hearing about GoodMaps and hearing my name.  I'm going to start today off by giving you a brief introduction about us and what we do in our work day to day. I want to tell you a little bit about our beliefs and the way that those beliefs guide our work and the way that we're building our company and partnering with companies throughout the world.  And then finally, I want to give you a sense of what to expect during the next year between this convention and next year, what can you expect out of GoodMaps.  I'm excited to let you know what the future holds.
A brief introduction to GoodMaps.  We were born out of the American printing house for the blind.  We're really the spiritual successor to the indoor navigation work that APH pioneered for so many years.  APH decided to carve that work out of the technology product research team and make it a truly dedicated effort as an external organization. One of the very first things we realized and both as part of APH's experience and the feedback we heard from other friends in the field was that the real bottleneck to accessible navigation and to making it possible for you to navigate with confidence and independence any venue you enter is not any particular application.  It is actually the existence of indoor mapping data.  Your navigation journey ends when you get to the door of the building that you're attempting to enter.  And the reason for that is because even though we have mapped the outdoor world many times over, we've barely begun the process of mapping the indoor world.  And that's really where our mission statement begins.  We're out to map the indoors.  

And to make that mapping data available to anybody who needs it. So whether you're entering your local grocery store, your shopping mall, airport, place of work, everyone should be able to enter with confidence.  We're using augmented reality, artificial intelligence and particle filtering to increase the number of mapped buildings in this country and throughout the world.  In addition to that, we're doing so, providing an unmatched accuracy that does not burden the building and does not burden the end use we are any incremental hardware.  There's no beacons or no extra devices to purchase.  This works on your smartphone whether you're on iOS user or an Android user.  We think that's a critical component to equity and making sure that everybody has access to what we're building.

So let me get down to some of our beliefs because I think these are really important in terms of what you can expect from us and the kind of company we're trying to build. The very first one is this should be free to users.  There's no reason that y'all should be paying for data that everybody else gets for free.  Our commitment to our users is we will never charge the end user for access to this technology.  We don't think that's ethical or right.

The second belief that's core to the way that we operate is that a rising tide lifts all boats.  The genesis of GoodMaps and how we started to focus on mapping the indoors, we came to the realization that the indoors has effectively not been mapped. We set about solving that issue.  How do we map the indoors?  If we're successful in mapping the indoors, it is immoral for us to not share that data with all of the other accessible navigation apps and providers that are out there.  
We have developed a particular experience that we are proud of and that is data driven but we know there is a range of preferences among users in that you perhaps would prefer to navigate with BlindSquare or prefer to navigate with instead of GoodMaps.  That's okay.  One of our commitments and one of our priorities is to make our mapping data available to any accessible navigation company free of charge.  We think that's an important part of making sure that this technology can find its way into your hands in whatever way it is that you choose to engage.

Finally, we think it is really important to offer services beyond accessibility that embed accessibility.  What does that mean?  When we think about the core technology we offer, it is the mapping data, it is the ability to identify where a person or an object is within that map and then to help navigate them from A to B or make them aware of what's around them.  That core technology and those abilities that I just described can be used by a multitude of people in a multitude of ways.  And what that does is allow us to get a yes from a venue who might not have the accessibility but does have a safety budget or does have a facilities budget.  We're working with the University of Massachusetts Boston who will be the first user of GoodMaps response.  It is a mapping service that is specifically focused on first responders and emergency personnel so that as they're entering emergency situations, they can be made aware of all of the things that are around them, that can help inform the way that they respond to that situation.

When we first approached UMass Boston, there was no accessibility budget, despite the fact they really wanted to incorporate this kind of technology within their campus.  By offering a valued proposition that went beyond accessibility and allowed campus safety and allowed facilities to partake in the project and to support the project, we're able to bring accessibility along. That's really core to our belief in the way that we're building this company.  We think of ourselves as a universal navigation provider in enabling safety within spaces.

What can you expect from GoodMaps in the year to come?  We have more and more buildings coming online every week including the headquarters of the National Federation of the Blind which we're extremely proud of and which will be online in the coming weeks. We also have a range of really exciting partnerships that we'll be able to announce over the coming weeks and months with a range of companies the tech giants that you know and tolerate and small. A lot of the accessibility companies that you probably use in your day to day life.  As I mentioned before, we're a rising tide lifts all boats kind of company so we're eager to pool resources to work on our collective missions.

Finally, our navigation map, GoodMaps explorer, we roll out new features to make navigation easier, more intuitive and more accessible for everybody. Please give us a follow on social media, join us at and join our mailing list so you can stay up to date.  I want to thank NFB for the invitation to address the convention and President Riccobono and for all of his support over the last couple of years.  Thank you so much.

PRESIDENT RICCOBONO: Thank you very much, Jose.  It has been my pleasure to help provide guidance to the company.  And through our staff here, I'm sure we'll be doing more to help find ways to get this indoor mapping technology out there.