Inclusive Smart Cities

Cities can be made inclusive and accessible once old models of disability that ignore spatiality are replaced by new models of disability that address spatiality. Pineda’s article, Enabling Justice: Spatializing Disability in the Built Environment,” reaffirms the importance of how physical space and the environment can enable or disable individuals (111). Further, Pineda explains how “contemporary legal definitions of disability are not overtly spatial” (112) when spatiality is an essential part of how persons with disabilities navigate their environment. Challenging the definition of disability to include spatiality, a central component of the environment that brings about discrimination and injustice for persons with disabilities, would “radically and fundamentally alter our understanding of equal rights” (Pineda 112). Pineda offers a new socio-spatial model of disability that aims to challenge dominant models of disability, such as the charity, medical, and personal tragedy models, that assign blame to individuals and ignore the importance of the environment in hindering persons with disabilities. The socio-spatial model of disability recognizes how “physical barriers are unjust and oppressive” (Pineda 117), which reveals that under this new model of disability, personal freedom is inherently valued. In sum, cities can be made inclusive and accessible once the distribution of space is realized. Pineda argues that this recognition “is an important aspect of realizing justice for disabled persons” (122). 

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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.

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Inclusive Cities and the New Urban Agenda

Our discussion of inclusive cities this week left me with a few questions regarding the equity of smart cities. While I agree that smart cities are an essential component of inclusive sustainable development, I am wrestling with how to make this a completely global conversation rather than a Westernized solution to the problem of inclusivity.  Continue reading

Inclusive City

The majority of the world’s population with soon be based in major cities making the structure of cities and their inclusivity increasingly important. It is crucial that the benefits of cities are open and easily accessible all people. It is also key that people with disabilities and marginalized groups are given to opportunity to not only utilize the city but be active economic contributors in order to push cities towards further development. These are just some of the elements of an inclusive city, more examples include ensuring all people have access to public transportation, parks, affordable homes, healthcare, etc.

The Habitat III conference took place in Ecuador and reviewed the topic of housing and sustainable urban development. This conference and the discussions within revolve directly around the theory of inclusive cities. The conference specifically recognized global urban trends and it set a new global standard for urban development. The major outcome of this conference was the creation of the New Urban Agenda. The NUA has specific sections that dictate the freedoms, services, and requirements that cities must provide its citizens in order to be considered a an inclusive developed city. The NUA specifically mentions inclusivity as a key to a developed city and requires that all persons have access to the rights of the city.

Inclusive Cities, Habitat III and New Urban Agenda

Cities have been attractors of populations. In cities there are more opportunities, jobs, transportation, close proximity. In cities you experience different cultures, politics. According to the World Bank report about 70% of the world population will live in cities by 2050. Thus, it is essential to make sure that cities provide opportunities and equal living conditions to all, because every individual has a ‘right to the city’.

The New Urban Agenda is the outcome document that was agreed upon at the Habitat III UN conference on housing and sustainable urban development in Quito, Ecuador. The UN conference was the first time in 20 years that the whole international community, led by national governments, collectively took stock of fast-changing urban trends and the ways in which these patterns are impacting human development. In addition, it was the first UN global summit about the adaptation of the 2030 SDG’s. The significance of the conference was that it set a new global standard for sustainable urban development and lets us rethink how we plan, manage and live in cities. It became an opportunity for the whole international community at all levels to harmonize its understanding of the problems by current trends in urbanization. It is roadmap for building cities that can serve as an engine of prosperity and center for cultural and social well-being for all. It also acts as guide to achieve SDG 11. In the NUA, governments are committed to provide basic services for all citizens and ensure that all citizens have access to equal opportunities and face no discrimination, including the most common excluded group­­­– persons with disabilities. PWD make up 10% of the world population, and yet they one of the most marginalized groups with limited access to rights that they deserve.  Habitat III was an important achievement for PWD – through engagement in GAP, PWD became an official stakeholder group of Habitat III and impacted the language of the final draft of the NUA (were referenced 15 times). This is a big achievement and a great leap forward not just toward SDG11, but also in promoting and encouraging inclusive policies towards all groups that been to this day excluded.