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Smart Accessibility: Unlocking Potential

Image by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York. Licensed under CC BY.

ACCESSIBILITY LEADING CITIES – JAUME CUNILL

“Smart City” is the concept that will change the way we see and live in cities. Thousands of experts worldwide analyze the advantages and disadvantages of this new technological and social revolution from all perspectives. To date, however, accessibility is still a nascent dimension of this movement and must firmly be incorporated into the very definition of a Smart City. At the core of the Smart City movement is the improvement in quality of life for people living in urban centers. The lack of attention to accessibility issues prohibits a comprehensive approach to developing a truly Smart City.

Smart Cities have an opportunity to create a community where anyone with or without disabilities, whatever their conditions or singularity may be, will be able to live, grow and realize their full potential. Today, technology makes this yet undelivered promise a real possibility. We are presented with the opportunity to break free from those old paradigms, which limit accessibility for all people throughout the world. Consequently, society has limited the personal and professional growth of persons with special needs.

Today, accessibility is often understood as an inevitable cost that institutions and companies must incur to reach a minimal level of social equity and to comply with legal and regulatory requirements.

Tomorrow does not have to be, nor should it be, like this. We must dismiss the false beliefs about the additional cost of accessibility that have been promulgated throughout society and have seeped into our unchallenged consciousness because of the barriers created in our learning. Fortunately, current technology will allow us to make accessibility a powerful tool to achieve greater social welfare and economic prosperity for society.

Smart Accessibility is the realization of two critical principles. First, to provide usefulness to all citizens. And second, to construct scenarios that allow the generation of economic benefits. To illustrate the impact of Smart Accessibility, consider the following examples:

Private companies: Making a website accessible improves indexing in internet searches with the same number of clicks.

Municipalities: Accessible pedestrian crossing solutions have resulted in the reduction of city maintenance expenses and provide better services to citizens.

Leisure/tourism: Cities that used accessibility as a tool to enrich the perception of all visitors have proven to provide an improved experience for all.

Implementing accessibility technologies that have already and continue to be developed is a worthy and equitable solution to address the still unfulfilled promise of humanity to give each person his or her opportunity to meet their full potential. Additionally, Smart Accessibility provides broad benefits to all of society not only those who directly benefit from these solutions’ intended purposes. Some of the many unprecedented benefits that Smart Accessibility can bring to the world include:

  1. Transforming costs into remarkable economic benefits.
  2.  Normalizing a new understanding of the economic profit of accessibility strategies
  3.  One billion persons will be able to provide all their talent to the world.

Tech4Freedom has developed technologies that provide people with the tools they need to achieve their goals and dreams. Today, we have proven that special needs can be treated at the mainstream level but with the acuteness of a singularity equivalent. Society must provide each person with customizable tools that match their uniqueness and offer them the key they need to unlock their full potential.

The impact such tools have for individuals, their families and society-at-large are undeniable. We are able to provide opportunity and dignity to those who deserve it most. Solutions have been created for people to achieve greater autonomy in their daily life.

Because Smart Cities are not complete without Smart Accessibility, Leading Cities and Tech4Freedom have joined forces to advance the cause for all peoples to realize the vision of putting the needs of people at the very center of this dizzying and yet amazing concept called Smart City.

Leading Cities is a global leader in Smart City solutions, city diplomacy and collaboration advancing sustainability and resilient city strategies and technologies.

Published in Smart & Resilient Cities™ (S&RC)