Urenio Watch Watch: Intelligent Cities / Smart Cities

Accessible Smart Cities Initiative

G3ict ‘“ the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies ‘“ and World Enabled teamed up to create the Defining Accessible Smart Cities Initiative. Sponsored by Microsoft, the initiative’ s goal is to increase awareness of the role that accessible technology must play in the planning, deployment, and functioning of smart cities worldwide and how smart cities can better engage persons with disabilities and aging communities in those processes.

The objective of the initiative is to bring together global industry, government, and civil society experts and practitioners to define how a Smart City can also be a digitally inclusive city. It will develop and deliver useful information on:

  • Making mainstream Smart City services accessible to all
  • Leveraging technologies to develop special services for seniors and persons with disabilities to enhance their safety, health care, participation in social, economic and cultural life, employment and civic activities such as voting

The initiative aims to create the knowledge base needed to effectively infuse accessibility and innovative assistive services into Smart Cities programs worldwide. Resources will include, for example:

  • Guiding principles for the planning and development of accessible Smart Cities programs
  • Model policies for Smart Cities programs to adopt for ensuring a commitment to accessibility
  • Inventory of relevant accessibility technical standards
  • Database of accessible Smart Cities solutions and a platform to share best practices and transfer knowledge
  • Catalog of Smart Cities indicators and metrics
  • Capacity building programs for city officials, CIOs, and technology leaders
  • Other specific tools to ensure that accessible technology is an explicit and central component of Smart Cities programs worldwide.

According to the published concept paper:

The rapid worldwide growth in Smart Cities programs creates unprecedented opportunities for governments, citizens, and technology companies. This significant growth also risks deepening a substantial digital divide for persons with disabilities and the aging population.   There is a compelling human rights and business case for infusing accessibility into global Smart Cities programs. Governments that deploy accessible technology in their Smart Cities initiatives will have more innovative, equitable and impactful results across key program areas, including e.g. in education, healthcare, and transportation. Technology companies that include accessibility and inclusion as part of serving Smart Cities worldwide will have an edge over competitors that do not. They will be providing products and solutions that support rich, personalized, citizen-centric services that serve a broader population and are usable in wider variety of environments.