Smart Cities for All Initiative Aims at Inclusion

Microsoft, along with the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ict) and World Enabled, have launched the Smart Cities for All initiative to define the state of information and communications technology (ICT) accessibility in smart cities worldwide. The initiative provides a ‘smart cities for all toolkit’ that contains four tools to help smart cities worldwide include a focus on ICT accessibility and the digital inclusion of persons with disabilities and older persons:

  • Implementing priority ICT accessibility standards – provides an inventory of three key standards that define ICT accessibility criteria and presents a step-by-step checklist of actions that can be taken to ensure the city is familiar with these standards and utilizing them effectively;
  • Adopting an ICT accessibility procurement policy – the purchasing power, including of ICT, of cities can be used to advance the rights and digital inclusion of persons with disabilities and older persons;
  • Communicating the case for stronger commitment to digital inclusion in cities – provides a guide to help effectively communicate the advantages of incorporating ICT accessibility into a city’s digital services; and,
  • Database of solutions for digital inclusion in cities – a showcase is currently being designed of existing products and solutions that can be deployed by smart cities to positively impact citizens in critical areas, such as independent living, public safety, transportation, employment, and online public services.

“We need a starter kit for every city around the world on how to do a smart city for all,” Toni Townes-Whitley, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for worldwide public sector and industry said. “We want to make this available to all of you so that you can replicate and implement these solutions across these cities.”

The Smart Cities for All initiative is currently developing a new tool – the Smart Cities Digital Inclusion Maturity Model. This tool will help smart cities to evaluate progress made towards achieving ICT accessibility and digital inclusion across a range of city functions. An alpha version of this new tool will be available in July, 2017.