- The Global Alliance for Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES) will move its activities under the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs (G3ict) to better coordinate on promoting inclusive design and technology to make cities more accessible for the disabled population.
- Under the agreement, GAATES will donate its assets to G3ict and redeploy its work under the organization’s Smart Cities for All global initiative. The GAATES board of directors will act as an advisory committee, and the brand will continue forward.
- "Opportunities abound with physical and digital accessibility elements increasingly interrelated: I am very pleased that we will be expanding our scope and outreach and work on a larger scale," said GAATES co-founder Betty Dion in a statement.
Smart Cities For All, the collaboration between G3ict and World Enabled, seeks to make cities consider inclusion as they adopt new technology and design strategies. The initiative is piloting a tool known as the Smart City Digital Inclusion Maturity Model with the city of Chicago, analyzing new city projects and evaluating their availability for people with disabilities.
A 2016 survey by Smart Cities for All that polled 250 experts found that 60% thought smart cities were failing disabled residents because current technology is not designed with inclusion in mind. Although new technology, including autonomous vehicles and wayfinding tools, hold plenty of opportunity to give disabled people more freedom and opportunities, experts warn that promise could be lost if technology is not deployed thoughtfully.
In an interview with Smart Cities Dive, Blind Institute of Technology founder Mike Hess said cities need to be “thoughtful in the software development life cycle” and “capture all citizen input” to ensure that new tools can be used by people with disabilities. “That’s what the missing component has been.”
The coordination with GAATES will bring the nonprofit’s global network of experts and executives to the Smart Cities for All work. According to its website, GAATES has an active presence in Africa, Europe, South America, North America and Asia as it works to help cities comply with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The group also has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which will bring more global heft to the inclusion work.