Inclusive “Smart City” Approach

Building the world’s smart sustainable cities together is one of 17 goals (SDG 11) of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. In 2018, the UN High-level Political Forum (HLPF) met to discuss some goals, SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities) being one of them. With rapid urbanization and movement of people from rural to urban cities, the growth of cities is staggering. In today’s society, mass potentiality also bring challenges to maximize Information Technology (IT) and Internet of Things (IoT). I cannot emphasize enough the impact of “big data” and how “data is king”. Through the indicators and targets of SDG 11, we are able to come to solutions that truly enable cities to become smart and sustainable.

During class discussion, the significance of understanding how to define disability was brought about as not being it about “us and them”, but as something that everyone will become or are already. In the reading, “Enabling Justice: Spatializing Disability in the Built Environment” by Victor Santiago Pineda, the challenging definitions of disability was discussed as well in close ties with the idea of physical space. The socio-spatial model cites “disability [as] a socially, politically, and spatially created phenomenon” (Pineda 117). Hence, disability studies scholars argue disability as a socially constructed phenomenon, requiring attention to space as a central topic of conversation (with no discrimination or injustice to these topics).

Habitat III, facilitated by the UN Habitat group, engenders the study of smart cities as a device for development (including participation from non-state actors). The UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development built a 20-year strategy which consisted of Preparatory Committee Meetings working on the non-paper Zero Draft months before the initial conference. Habitat III provided a platform for urban development practitioners to consider greater practices and opportunities for people with disability. From there, “Disability-Inclusive Accessible Urban Development” (DIADU) Network was emphasized through the development of smart cities. Additionally Habitat II included smart cities. While there may be great advancements in cities, there are some downsides like expensive costs, rapid development, and privacy concerns. It is critical that each stakeholder responsible for smart cities collectivity work to build an inclusive and sustainable “smart city”.

“Inclusive cities”, indeed, consists of the use of technology to know about its inhabitants, to create opportunities and ways of engaging with the entire community, without leaving any group behind. This socio-economic inclusion perspective reflects upon Article 9 of the CRPD which ensures “Accessibility” for not only built-environment in cities (roads, buildings, transportation, indoor and outdoor facilities, including schools, hospitals, etc.), but also accessibility for the electronic environment (information technology, telecommunications, ITC, and other services like emergency services). Within this realm, we can inquire: What is the minimum viable product (MVP) produced that is still useful to the consumers? And, who gets to decide the extent of technological development as a part of “smart, sustainable, and inclusive” cities?



Pineda (2008) Enabling Justice: Spatializing Disability in the Built Environment, Critical Planning, Summer 2008