New York City - May 3, 2017 - Today, aligned with the Smart Cities NYC 2017, G3ict and World Enabled launched the Smart Cities for All toolkit to help city leaders, urban planners, and technology companies design accessible and inclusive Smart Cities for all citizens. The toolkit, a result of the Smart Cities for All initiative led by G3ict and World Enabled and supported by Microsoft, will help cities implement Smart Cities programs and services that engage all citizens across a broad range of areas, including emergency response, employment, public safety and justice, financial services, and more. It will provide city leaders a guide to follow to help ensure that its technology initiatives and smart cities programs benefit all citizens, including people with disabilities and older persons.
As more cities evaluate and embrace new technologies to make cities smarter and improve their economic and social well-being, older persons and people with disabilities are increasingly being excluded. A Smart Cities for All survey conducted with 250 experts worldwide discovered that about 60 percent of global respondents believe smart cities are failing people with disabilities. With more than one billion people worldwide having a disability, developing and implementing smart cities programs that are not accessible or inclusive deepens the existing digital divide. We have an opportunity to change this.
The toolkit, comprised of four new tools, aims to address priority challenges and alleviate the top barriers to making greater progress in establishing and deploying digitally inclusive smart cities programs and initiatives.
Onsite at the Smart Cities NYC event, leading experts from Smart Cities for All will discuss the components of the Smart Cities for All toolkit, share their research findings, define the major barriers to digital inclusion in Smart Cities, and offer solutions for city leaders and the technology industry.
This initiative is led by James Thurston, Vice President at G3ict and Dr. Victor Pineda, President at World Enabled. Both James and Victor are leading accessibility experts and are committed to building a broad global coalition to ensure that persons with disabilities and older persons enjoy the advances of Smart Cities on an equal basis with other citizens.
Toni Townes-Whitley, corporate vice president of Worldwide Public Sector and Industry, Microsoft, emphasized the importance of the toolkit, stating, “As leaders driving digital transformation across business and government, we must make sure the benefits of technology innovation are broadly shared. The Smart Cities for All Toolkit empowers city leaders and urban planners to make their programs truly ‘smart’ by being inclusive and accessible by design.”
Dr. Victor Santiago Pineda is the President of World Enabled. He also serves as President the Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES). Dr. Pineda is a recognized leader in international disability rights and was appointed by US President Barak Obama to the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board. He teaches city planning at University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Pineda has received numerous awards, including a National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation research grant, a Fulbright Hays Scholarship, and the Jefferson Award for Public Service. Mr. Pineda received a B.A., B.S. and M.C.P. from the University of California, Berkeley and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
James Thurston is an internationally recognized technology policy leader. As G3ict’s Vice President for Global Strategy and Development, he leads the design and implementation of new programs to scale up G3ict’s global impact. He has served as advisor to high-ranking government leaders in the US and abroad on technology policy, human rights, and digital inclusion. He has experience applying both technology and public policy to important social and economic challenges. He holds broad policy and management experience in both the private and public sectors and at the federal, state, and international levels of government. Prior to joining G3ict, Mr. Thurston was Director of International Accessibility Policy at Microsoft, where he developed and executed a worldwide strategy to expand the company’s outreach on disability and technology issues. Mr. Thurston holds both a Master of Public Administration and an M.A. in East European Studies from the University of Washington, as well as a B.A. in International Affairs from the University of Maine. He can be reached at email@example.com
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