Third Sector Awards 2015: Corporate Partnership - Winner: Guide Dogs with Microsoft

Awarded to a partnership between a charity, social enterprise or other kind of voluntary organisation and a business that has demonstrated strong mutual benefits

Cities Unlocked: headset and navigation app for people with sight loss
Cities Unlocked: headset and navigation app for people with sight loss

What was the partnership?

The charity Guide Dogs and the IT company Microsoft joined forces in 2011 to help people with sight-loss navigate around cities – which can be a nerve-wracking experience.

What did they do?

The two organisations have now developed Cities Unlocked, a headset and navigation app for a smartphone. Cities Unlocked can talk users through their routes, giving them important information about where they are, what is surrounding them and timetables. The app uses sound to indicate to users that they are walking the right way and alerts them if they go off course. Users can listen to navigation, transport and retail messages while still being able to hear the sounds of the real world around them - important when you cannot see.

What has been the effect of the partnership?

Volunteers tested the technology in situations including catching a bus and a train and using the app to read out information about products, prices and special offers in a supermarket. Those who tested the prototype reported that it made their journeys less labour-intensive and less mentally challenging, increased their confidence and reassured them.

What did the judges say?

Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of FareShare, said: "Inspiring and amazing – this really is a ground-breaking partnership."

Highly commended

The Prince's Trust with Marks and Spencer


British Heart Foundation with Asda

Alder Hey Children's Hospital with Matalan

Unicef with Barclays

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