Inclusive Sustainable Cities

This week the reading and in class discussions revolved around the concept of inclusive and sustainable cities. The New Urban Agenda sets a framework for the creation and ongoing development of cities and human settlements. There are three main points that the NUA makes, the one that is more pertinent to our class discussion was urban equity and the eradication of poverty. Point 36 specifically calls for equal access to all public spaces for people with disabilities. This point echo’s the theme of what has been talked about in class all semester. Without equal access to these spaces that people without disabilities have access to persons with disabilities are missing out on a multitude of opportunities. Not being able to use public transit may mean that your access to the entire city is limited and more expensive. If you’re not able to access a park then you’re missing out on valuable social time and relationships that are necessary to a healthy human existence.

This week the in-class discussion highlighted the different innovative features that inclusive and sustainable cities could have. One of my favorite discussions was about the use of sensors within a city and how they can contribute to making living in a city more sustainable. Sensors are a relatively cheap was to create data that can be used to configure a variety of sustainable living practices within a community. From public transit to vegetable compost, understanding the rate or frequency at which these practices are happening can contribute to making them more efficient and furthermore, more sustainable.

The in-class discussion about the use of apps and crowd source data to informs persons with disabilities how accessible a venue is was also very interesting. The example of using an app to navigate your way into a park with a wheelchair or into a facility that may not immediately show where an elevator is was extremely useful. The use of an app that uses crowd sourced data to understand how friendly a restaurant is towards persons with disabilities was also interesting. This discussion made me realize how unaware I was of how my favorite coffee shop or movie theater could be completely inaccessible to people with certain disabilities. However, this discussion also inspired me to think more about inclusivity when going about my day to day life and to make more of an effort to be an advocate for inclusive sustainable development.