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10 May 2019

Survey reveals smart cities are failing disabled people

First publishedon www.ITSInternational.com

Six out of ten global experts say smart cities are failing disabled people, according to a new survey.

Smart Cities for All, a global initiative comprising non-profits G3it and World Enabled, says just 18% of experts confirm that the smart city initiatives familiar to them use international standards for ICT accessibility.

ICT accessibility is the quality of a mainstream technology to be used by the widest range of users regardless of abilities or disabilities.

The survey, based on 175 entrepreneurs in technology incubators, revealed that only 43% of respondents had a strong understanding of accessibility and inclusion in their own product development and user experience design process. Also, a third of entrepreneurs were not sure if disabled people could even use the technology products and solutions they are currently developing.

To tackle this issue, Smart Cities for All has released its Inclusive Innovation Playbook with the support of AT&T.

Smart Cities for All says the document lays out five ‘plays’ and related actions that cities can take to infuse incubators, accelerators and innovation process with a commitment to inclusion and accessibility. These include a focus on a city’s people, economic assets, infrastructure, network and enabling public policies. The document draws from successful practices and insights from the private sector, government and civil society.

James Thurston, managing director of Smart Cities for All, says: “Closing the digital divide for the disability and aging communities in Smart Cities will require infusing inclusion, accessibility, and universal design into the innovation of new technology solutions at a scale much greater than is happening today. We think this new playbook will help cities and their partners do exactly that.”

According to Smart Cities for All, the playbook was designed to support entrepreneurs, developers who design technology and smart city solutions, policy makers and civil hacking community leaders. It is also expected to be of interest to smart city programme managers, academics researching innovation and disability organisations.

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