The rapid growth of connected, smart cities is accompanied by the need for digital inclusion – ensuring that all citizens have accessibility to the new technologies and are equally able to equally reap the rewards. Technology companies that include accessibility and inclusion as part of their smart city products will have an edge over their competition.
G3ict – the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies – and World ENABLED recently 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 digital services of smart cities can be more accessible, including for persons with disabilities. For example, content can be made available in multiple formats and languages, services can be offered remotely to home-bound citizens, digital formats can serve multiple disabilities, and interact with assistive technologies used by persons with different types of disabilities. Accessible smart city solutions can help people remain productive as they age and ensure a person with a disability can equally access available services and content.
Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer, stated, “Technology empowers persons with disabilities to achieve more in the places where they live and work. As cities evolve and integrate new technologies, we can help them define what it means to be smart – and accessible – to make sure no one is left behind.”