While smart cities has the potential to improve quality of life, there are fears it can widen inequality.
Smart cities need to take into consideration the basic changes a city needs for widespread accessibility as well as ploughing ahead with more ambitious technology plans.
A recent panel discussion hosted by the Society for Innovation, Technology and Modernisation and chaired by Graeme Neill, Editor of SmartCitiesWorld, debated how cities need to bake in accessibility for those with disabilities as part of their future plans. By 2050, almost 70 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities and the World Bank estimates that today 15 per cent of the world’s population experiences some form of disability.
Panellists included Joanna Wooten, consultant and former director of the Business Disability Forum, who argued that cities should not forget basic accessibility issues such as toilets or smooth pavements and ensure citizens with disabilities are equipped with the right information to get around a city.
Rene Perkins is founder and CEO of CityMaaS, a transport app for people with disabilities, said technology companies need to build inclusive design from the foundations of their solutions and always think through the user experience.
Faith la Grange, who leads the local and regional government team at Microsoft UK, said issues are exacerbated for rural communities even moreso than city communities, which provides technology companies with a greater challenge when it comes to building in accessibility.