Recently, Smart Cities for All, a global initiative of G3ict in partnership with World Enabled, announced the launch of its new Inclusive Innovation Playbook. The tool, developed with support of AT&T, reportedly lays out specific steps that cities and their partners can take to infuse the urban innovation ecosystem with a greater focus on accessibility and a commitment to persons with disabilities.
“We firmly believe that inclusive innovation and accessibility define the smarter products, services, and solutions that contribute to a smarter city. The City of Chicago is dedicated to encouraging an innovation ecosystem that is diverse and involves persons with disabilities. We are proud to partner with G3ict, AT&T, and World Enabled to develop the Smart Cities for All Inclusive Innovation Playbook as we progress closer towards our goal of making Chicago the most accessible city in the nation,” said Karen Tamley, Commissioner of the City of Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.
Cities around the world are using technology products and smart solutions to: allow people to report issues like potholes and broken traffic lights; create direct and personalized communication channels with residents; facilitate digital or contactless payments for city services. But according to global studies by Smart Cities for All, the continuous technology innovation driving this digital transformation is not benefiting everyone. The new Inclusive Innovation Playbook was written to help cities, their partners, and stakeholders address that challenge by defining inclusion of everyone as part of the technology innovation process and integrate it into urban innovation ecosystems.
“Smart Cities technology can transform urban environments to be a better place for all people to live, work and play. It’s critical that we work in unison to foster an entrepreneurial ecosystem that develops technology that’s inclusive and accessible to all. It’s an honor for us at AT&T to offer this resource to cities. We strive to be a catalyst in making inclusive urban environments a reality,” said Suzanne Montgomery, Chief Accessibility Officer, AT&T.
According to a Smart Cities for All survey, 60 percent of global experts say Smart Cities are failing persons with disabilities today. Just 18 percent of experts report that the Smart City initiatives familiar to them use international standards for ICT accessibility, the study indicates. In developing the new Playbook, Smart Cities for All surveyed more than 175 entrepreneurs in technology incubators worldwide. Less than half reported a strong understanding of accessibility and inclusion in product development and user experience (UX) design processes. A third of the entrepreneurs surveyed said they were not sure if persons with disabilities could even use the technology products and solutions they are currently developing.
“In New York City, we believe that everyone should have fair access and benefit equally from new technology solutions, which is why we put people at the center of tech and innovation,” said Alby Bocanegra, Interim CTO, City of New York. “The Inclusive Innovation Playbook is a guide that all cities should embrace as they consider adopting smart city solutions and making sure that no one is left behind.”
The Smart Cities for All Inclusive Innovation Playbook lays out five “plays” and related actions that cities can take to infuse incubators, accelerators, and the innovation process with a commitment to inclusion and accessibility. The five urban innovation inclusion plays focus on a city’s people, economic assets, infrastructure, networking, and enabling public policies.
“At G3ict and Smart Cities for All, we believe that inclusive innovation leads to technology products and smart solutions that work better for everyone, including persons with disabilities and older persons,” said James Thurston, VP, G3ict, and Managing Director, Smart Cities for All. “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.”
Edited by Ken Briodagh