Innovation is the key to Smarter Cities

James Thurston
Sep 18, 2018 · 3 min read

Today we are announcing a new Smart Cities for All project to target one of the primary drivers of the urban digital divide for persons with disabilities — the innovation process. With support of AT&T and in partnership with the cities of Chicago and New York, we are launching the Inclusive Innovation for Smarter Cities project. We believe that by infusing urban innovation ecosystems with a greater understanding of inclusion and accessibility, we can both foster entrepreneurship and ensure that new smart city solutions and technologies are usable by all citizens.

We have a big challenge.

In 2016 G3ict and World Enabled surveyed more than 250 experts around the world and found that 60% of them believe today’s Smart Cities are failing persons with disabilities. The biggest barrier identified by these experts was a lack of awareness of disability, accessibility, and inclusion — including in the design and innovation process.

Last November, at the annual Smart City Expo and World Congress in Barcelona, I walked the expo floor to explore the great mainstream smart solutions developed for cities around the world. I talked to dozens of companies, entrepreneurs, and developers about their exciting and useful products for cities and citizens. I found just one, out of dozens, that could say that their smart solution was accessible for persons with disabilities.

That is a problem.

With our new Inclusive Innovation for Smarter Cities project, we want to help address this design and innovation challenge.

Moving forward

In our 2016 survey, those same global experts that believed Smart Cities were failing persons with disabilities also saw great potential for existing and emerging technologies (e.g. mobile, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, etc.) to help close the enormous digital divide in cities. We do too.

In its white paper, Smart Cities for All: A Vision for an Inclusive, Accessible Urban Future, AT&T presents a vision for the revolution of smart city technology and its positive impacts worldwide. We share that vision.

Our new Inclusive Innovation for Smarter Cities project will build on that AT&T vision. We will provide cities and urban innovation ecosystems with new resources to overcome the significant awareness barrier that exists today.

As a first step, Smart Cities for All will lead roundtable discussions in both New York and Chicago. We will engage entrepreneurs and innovation experts across the United States and worldwide. We will draw on the experience and insights of leading accessibility and disability professionals. Through these collaborations we will produce a clear understanding of how urban innovation ecosystems focus on inclusion today and create a set of guidelines for how cities around the world can support greater inclusion in the innovation process.

Get Involved!

Today, as we launch the new Inclusive Innovation for Smarter Cities project, we invite you to join our collaboration in two ways:

· Take a short, 4-minute survey to share with us your insights on and objectives for inclusive innovation

· Sign up to stay aware of the work we are doing on this new project

You can do both at this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/VV8BWM9

Innovation is the exciting and fundamental key to smarter cities. Let’s work together to define how it can also help us close the digital divide for persons with disabilities and older persons.

Smart Cities for All

James Thurston

Written by

Vice President for Global Strategy & Development at G3ict — The Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs

Smart Cities for All

Smart Cities for All initiative is created to define the state of ICT accessibility in smart cities worldwide and to eliminate the digital divide for persons with disabilities.

James Thurston

Written by

Vice President for Global Strategy & Development at G3ict — The Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs

Smart Cities for All

Smart Cities for All initiative is created to define the state of ICT accessibility in smart cities worldwide and to eliminate the digital divide for persons with disabilities.

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