Smart Cities, Habitat III, and the New Urban Agenda

The main topic that was discussed this week was smart inclusive cities.  International frameworks, such as Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda have created a guideline to make urban centers more inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities. These framework work with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 of sustainable cities and communities, which focuses on reducing inequalities in urban environments by supporting the development of inclusive and sustainable communities. Inclusive urban environments are metropolises where there are no barriers to empower individuals, no matter a person’s race, gender, wealth-status, etc.

This subject reminded me of the Sen’s theory of development because these cities allow for more freedom. They make it possible for individual choices to be universal. This goes with education, housing, transportation, etc. Absolute individual choice means complete accessibility, no barriers or obstacles. This is fundamental to be inclusive to persons of disabilities.

Cities or urban centers hold most of the world’s general population. They are the political, economic, and cultural engines of their respected countries. Urban Centers are where most innovations and changes happen. These international frameworks are needed for cities because they allow for the subject to be aware in society. If cities contain policies and tools that help and include persons with disabilities in their societies than this will hopefully spread to other regions. In addition, it is much easier to make an issue heard in a city than going to representatives of a country’s national government. City governments are influential and more connected to individuals than a national government is. Cities can be used as a platform to bring rights of people with disabilities to the national government.

In my research, I will be discussing inclusivity when it comes to internet access, smartphones, and people with disabilities. Articles that I have read show more internet concentrations in urban centers of developing countries, leaving rural areas without internet and disconnected to innovation. Even when there is internet in an urban center, apps and programs may not able to run because of internet service and hardware. For example, an Android Go device may not be able to run extensive Android apps that high-end Android phones can run. The most expensive service and hardware can support these extensive programs, but they are only accessible to the rich class. Apple and Microsoft are regarded as leaders in providing accessibility to persons with disabilities, but their hardware is expensive or not available in the market.  Cheap Smartphones are now being used as a tool to help connect people to the internet, but Google may have trouble in making accessibility features and apps in cheaper models.