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Creating inclusive smart cities

G3ict and World Enabled, who are behind the initiative, will collaborate with AT&T and the cities of Chicago and New York

Smart Cities for All will lead the discussion in Chicago (above) and New York
Smart Cities for All will lead the discussion in Chicago (above) and New York

The Smart Cities for All global initiative, a collaboration of the non-profits G3ict and World Enabled, has announced a new project to define a more inclusive approach to innovation for smarter cities.


In partnership with AT&T and the cities of Chicago and New York, the Inclusive Innovation for Smarter Cities project seeks to convene leaders from government, industry, and disability organisations.


Innovation ecosystem


The aim is to generate new knowledge and tools that define how urban innovation ecosystems – including entrepreneurs, developers, incubators, and accelerators – can create more inclusive apps and technology solutions that impact the lives of all people in cities, including persons with disabilities and older persons.


In 2016, the Smart Cities for All global initiative surveyed more than 250 experts around the world and found that three-fifths of global experts claimed that today’s smart cities are failing persons with disabilities because technology solutions are not designed to be accessible and inclusive.


Those same experts saw great potential for existing and emerging technologies like mobile, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality, to help close the enormous digital divide in cities.


“Smart cities must also be inclusive cities,” said Mike Zeto, vice president and general manager of smart cities, AT&T. “We’re working with Smart Cities for All to help ensure that as more and more cities implement smart city strategies, they can do so with inclusion in mind from the very start. This project builds upon our collaboration with G3ict and our commitment to accessibility and creating inclusive experiences for everyone.”

“The barriers that people with disabilities face are not a result of their disability, but rather with the inaccessibility of their environment"

“Chicago will become a leading US city working with experts and innovators to ensure our smart city initiatives are accessible, equitable and inclusive and improve the lives of people with disabilities,” said Karen Tamley, commissioner of the city of Chicago mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, of the project launch.


As part of the project, Smart Cities for All will lead roundtable discussions in both New York and Chicago and engage entrepreneurs and innovation experts across the US and worldwide. It will draw on the experience and insights of leading accessibility, innovation, and disability professionals to create resources for cities around the world.


Inclusion roadmap for cities


The collaboration will produce a clear understanding of how urban innovation ecosystems focus on inclusion today and a set of principles and roadmap for how cities can support greater inclusion in the innovation process.


“The barriers that people with disabilities face are not a result of their disability, but rather with the inaccessibility of their environment,” continued Victor Calise, Commissioner of the NYC mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.


“A truly smart city is an accessible city that enables all of its citizens to live happy, healthy and productive lives. We are looking forward to bringing together experts to share their knowledge of creating accessible infrastructures. The result will be a toolkit that lays the groundwork for future smart cities around the world.”


“Innovations in machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision, and cloud computing are already improving employment, education and health outcomes for persons with disabilities and older persons,” added Dr Victor Pineda, president of World Enabled. “We want to ensure tomorrow’s technology leaves no one behind.”


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