To create best-of-class livable and productive environment for its citizens and visitors, a smart city will have to evolve into an ‘intelligent city’. Estimates of the smart cities market vary widely. The one constant is a universal expectation of substantial growth. New cities will be built and existing ones will be retrofitted to create economic development and improve the lives of citizens, especially those with disabilities and senior citizens.
Imagine a progressive smart city where a person in a wheelchair can chart a route to the local park by simply using curb cuts and avoiding barriers. He/She can then connect to the park’s Wi-Fi and listen to songs or watch cartoons.
These aren’t fantasies. These are smart city products and services that are currently being developed or used. The main aim of these products is to cater to the needs of the people. According to US Census Bureau, in the top 100 metropolitan areas of the United States, nearly 25% of citizens are over the age of 65 or living with disabilities. Internet of things (IoT) can play a huge role in developing inclusive and accessible cities so that the aged population can enjoy a better quality of life. There are effective ways in which smart cities can have a more desirable outcome for the aged and people with disabilities:
It’s important to understand what the city and its services are lacking. Getting first-hand information from the aged communities and those living with disabilities will do the trick. Incorporating their feedback and expectations into smart city planning will help in aligning solutions with their needs.
Design for Inclusion
It’s crucial to consider the customer experience at every touch point within the city. For example, how can the disabled and senior citizens use websites, mobile applications, smart meters, and other emerging devices? Developing smart city technologies for even-handed and adaptable use will help ensure inclusion for these communities.
Adoption of Technology
Making technology accessible won’t help unless we can find ways to educate and encourage the technology adoption. If there is no uptake in the adoption of smart city technologies, chances are that their benefits will be limited.
The technologies behind smart cities facilitate a smooth interaction between citizens and their environment. These technologies also enable citizen involvement and play a major role in development of self-sustaining cities by providing help in managing and conversing resources.
These technologies will also help meet the social dimensions of sustainable development by pushing for more inclusive and equitable cities. As the world looks to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), smart city technologies will touch up on broad range of targets. For example, smart cities will advance the SDG 11 on Sustainable Cities and Communities, SDG 9 on Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure, and an array of other SDG impact areas.