Smart Cities Dive: Chicago to pilot tool to boost disability access for smart cities

Smart Cities Dive: Chicago to pilot tool to boost disability access for smart cities

Dive Brief:

  • Chicago will be the pilot city for a new model designed by Smart Cities for All — a collaboration between the advocacy groups G3ict and World Enabled — meant to help cities evaluate how accessible digital and smart services are for people with disabilities, and help planners track progress.
  • The Smart City Digital Inclusion Maturity Model, which was designed with Microsoft, analyzes a range of city functions — like communications, training and technology standards — and defines performance indicators and metrics towards expanding accessibility. It can be tailored for a city’s needs and existing infrastructure.
  • The pilot, which will launch in Chicago at the end of this year, will include expert visits and culminate in a confidential report to city officials.

Dive Insight:

There is great potential in smart cities design to help people with disabilities get more access to jobs, health care or leisure activities, everything from improved on-demand transportation to wayfinding for the visually impaired. But that can only happen with adequate thought and planning, something that many advocates worry isn’t happening. In a March interview with Smart Cities Dive, James Thurston, vice president for global strategy and development at G3ict, said “very few [cities] are thinking about all of their citizens, including specifically, citizens with disabilities.”

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