G3ict and World ENABLED leads the way with Microsoft support.

G3ict, the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs, and World ENABLED announced at the 5th M-Enabling Summit, that they are teaming up in the launch of a joint global Defining Accessible Smart Cities Initiative.

The objective, over the coming year, is to increase awareness about the role that accessible technology must play in the planning, deployment and functioning of smart cities worldwide and how smart cities can better engage persons with disabilities and aging communities in those processes. The initiative is sponsored by the Microsoft Corporation.
At a signing ceremony held at the M-Enabling Summit to celebrate G3ict’s 10th year anniversary and the new partnership between G3ict and World ENABLED, Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer, announced the company’s support and sponsorship of the initiative stating, “Technology empowers persons with disabilities to achieve more in the places where they live and work. As cities evolve and integrate new technologies, we can help them define what it means to be smart – and accessible – to make sure no one is left behind.”
Urbanisation is a significant and lasting trend. The global urban population climbed to 54% in 2014 and is projected to rise to 70% by 2050. Smart cities are using technology to empower employees and promote deeper civic engagement.

Dr Victor Pineda, President and Founder of World ENABLED,  said “With the generous support and global leadership of Microsoft, we have an incredible opportunity to unlock the potential of both technology and urban planning and help people with disabilities contribute to the vitality of their own cities.”
The Defining Accessible Smart Cities Initiative brings together industry, government, and civil society experts and practitioners worldwide to define how a smart city can also be a digitally inclusive city. A smart city is an urban area in which digital technologies are integrated into the infrastructure in order to provide services for the citizens and government of the city.
“We have designed this initiative to improve the accessibility of the technology infrastructure of smart cities worldwide,” said James Thurston, Vice President for Global Strategy and Development at G3ict, adding, “This requires building a significant knowledge base, including core principles, inventories of technical standards, and model policies for accessible cities, as well as a platform for smart cities to share best practices and innovate new inclusive technologies.”
This unique, new initiative will address the vital issues of the interaction between increasing urbanization and integrative technology at a time when the proliferation of smart cities threatens to widen the gap between persons with disabilities, aging communities, and the rest of the population. G3ict and World ENABLED will release initial project results in September 2016.
Kathryn Willson, Director of Microsoft’s CityNext initiative emphasised this point, stating, “For years, Microsoft and our CityNext partners have been helping cities in their digital transformation journey to become more efficient, safer, healthier, more educated, and more sustainable places to live and work. We are excited to support the global leadership of G3ict and World ENABLED in raising awareness about the need to make cities more accessible and inclusive and to partner with them in making progress towards that important goal.”