Smart Cities Can Enable Access for People of All Ages and Abilities

AT&T collaborated with G3ict and World Enabled, for a new report, Smart Cities for All: A Vision for an Inclusive, Accessible Urban Future. The report shows how smart cities can help people with disabilities and the aging population.

The white paper is in alignment with the 2017 M-Enabling Summit, which takes place in  Washington, D.C. on June 13-14, presents a vision of the revolution of smart city technology and its positive impacts worldwide.

In collaboration with Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), AT&T compiled insights and proposed guidelines in this new white paper that takes its name from the Smart Cities for All initiative launched one year ago by G3ict and World Enabled. The initiative advances a vision of making cities all over the world smarter through more inclusive, accessible design.

The report’s aim is to help cities identify ways that smart city technologies can adopt a people-first approach to benefit people with disabilities and older citizens.

“As an Internet of Things leader, we realize all too well the positive impact smart cities solutions can have on improving and enhancing citizens’ lives,” said Chris Penrose, President, Internet of Things Solutions, AT&T Business. “While full of promise, the adoption of smart cities technology is still in its infancy. As more and more cities begin to consider and implement smart city strategies, our hope is that they will take a holistic approach so that they are taking into account the needs of all citizens, so that everyone can fully reap the benefits of technology innovation—now and in the future.”

”Truly smart cities by definition and by design must be more inclusive and accessible cities,” said James Thurston, G3ict’s Vice President for Global Strategy & Development. “G3ict is proud to team with AT&T, as we have for many years, to define good practice and develop resources for making information and communication technology, or ICT, more accessible. This new vision for a more inclusive urban future will help cities across the U.S., Mexico, and worldwide focus on digital inclusion and Smart Cities for All.”

As more cities evaluate and embrace new technologies to make cities smarter and improve their economic and social well-being, older persons and people with disabilities are increasingly being excluded. A Smart Cities for All survey conducted by G3ict and World Enabled with 250 experts worldwide in August 2016 discovered that about 60 percent of global respondents believe smart cities are failing people with disabilities.

The report notes that  global smart city market is expected to grow to $1.565 trillion by 20201, and this growing economic opportunity inherently involves the opportunity to engage, inform and improve the lives of citizens.

For the 25% of people in U.S. cities who are aging or living with disabilities, these technologies must be built to deliver on better access and fuller participation in the life of their cities2. New interconnected solutions will enable improved mobility solutions, increased opportunity for aging-in-place, and other technologies that will support  independent living and transform cities into more enabling environments. The ecosystem of impacts goes beyond any one community: this new connectivity will support millions of families and caretakers, and provide a platform for citizen entrepreneurs to craft unique civil tech solutions.

Smart city technologies make cities more manageable and more personal by deploying sensing and monitoring capabilities along with adopting data-driven approaches. They take the pocket-sized solutions that help us manage our homes from our phones and apply them at the city-scale to provide officials with detailed dashboards to understand their communities block by city block. They allow citizens to seamlessly integrate their daily lives with the urban space by connecting our personal devices with city services upon which we rely.

Whether alerting emergency services when our smartwatches detect a fall, or using real-time data to manage traffic flows to keep citizens crossing the street safe in a busy city corridor, smart city technologies bring an unprecedented level of connectivity to city living.

From civic kiosks that incorporate Universal Design to the latest cloud-based accessibility features and healthtech innovations, AT&T seeks to advance an inclusive vision for information and communications technology.

“Just over one billion people worldwide live with a disability. So our challenge is to design and deploy smart city services that leave no one behind,” said Dr. Victor Pineda, President of World Enabled. “We can get smarter cities by investing in design for inclusivity and accessibility. We are excited to collaborate with AT&T in sharing the four keys to success that city officials should use to ensure digital inclusion. These include designing for inclusion, engaging partners and stakeholders, promoting adoption of technology, and fostering the entrepreneur ecosystem.”

Onsite at the M-Enabling Summit, executives from AT&T, G3ict, and World Enabled will take part in a panel discussion on June 13 with other leading experts to discuss the vision documents’ four keys to success; explore barriers to digital inclusion in smart cities today; and offer solutions for city leaders and the technology industry.

“Cities can be the foundation of truly sustainable economic growth,” said Aron Cramer, President and CEO of BSR. “BSR is proud to collaborate with AT&T and Smart Cities for All to highlight smart city technologies that advance environmental, social, and economic benefits for everyone.”

About Smart Cities for All

James Thurston, Vice President at G3ict and Dr. Victor Pineda, President at World Enabled, lead the Smart Cities for All initiative launched in 2016. Both James and Victor are leading accessibility experts who are committed to building a broad global coalition to ensure that persons with disabilities and older persons enjoy the advances of smart cities on an equal basis with other citizens.

Read report.