All for One and One for All: a Tale of a Smart, Inclusive City

June 12, 2017
By Chris Penrose

I’ve heard many stories of the next big technology wave that will revolutionize the way we live, work and play. Many play out to be mere hype and hope. But a few have come to see the light of day. One such success is that of the emerging smart city.

A smart city uses technology to enhance citizens’ quality of life—socially, economically and even environmentally. For example, it is estimated that technology solutions including Smart Cities can enable a 20% reduction of global CO2 emissions by 2030.1

The good news is that the roll out of smart city technology is not a fairy tale or a far-off dream. It’s real. And it’s happening today – here in the U.S. and in cities across the world.

It’s estimated that two-thirds of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050.2 So this technology is critical for a better future.  In the 100 largest metropolitan areas of the United States, nearly 25% of citizens are currently over the age of 65 or living with disabilities.3 

The key to successful smart cities is addressing the current and future needs of every citizen. This is especially important for those who are aging or have disabilities. Inclusiveness should be at the forefront of every smart city strategy. The lens of design for inclusion is critical to make certain the promise of smart cities helps close the digital divide, rather than widen the gap.  Moreover, cities are networks of diverse individuals and people who are aging and living with disabilities are integral to these networks—along with their families, neighbors and caregivers.

What’s the blueprint for building a smart, inclusive city? AT&T compiled insights and proposed guidelines in a new white paper, “Smart Cities for All: A Vision for an Inclusive, Accessible Urban Future.” 

The white paper looks at:

  • The role connectivity plays in building inclusive smart cities.
  • How smart cities can address the challenges of aging and accessibility.
  • A look at the inclusive smart cities framework model.
  • Keys for successfully designing an inclusive smart city.

This report outlines smart city technologies that benefit all communities. Cities can also learn more about offering more equitable and positive living for those who are aging and living with disabilities. 

Lise Hamlin, director of Public Policy at the Hearing Loss Association of America explains what this could look like.

“Smart technology has the potential to greatly improve the quality of life for people with hearing loss. In the workplace, such things as webinars and teleconferences can be quickly and accurately captioned. Conversations will become easier through speech-to-text technology that will be available by simply downloading an app on your phone. And smart technology will make social and community events more enjoyable. For instance, we are on the cusp of making stage productions more accessible by allowing the audio to be streamed through an app on your phone that allows the person with hearing loss to boost the sound and change the tone to adjust to their own hearing loss, making both music and voices more understandable. When every venue, public facility - and city - has that kind of smart technology available, people with hearing loss will be able to take part in activities and enjoy events with their friends and families that once may have seemed impossible.”

Download the report today to learn more about creating smart cities for all.   

1 #SMARTer2030, IoT Solutions for 21st Century Challenges, 2015

2 United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2014). World Urbanization Prospects, The 2014 Revision.

3 BSR Calculation based on U.S. Census Bureau, 2014 American Community Survey: 1-Year Estimates of Metropolitan areas in the U.S.

Chris Penrose - President of Internet of Things Solutions

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