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Alexandre Gorelik

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12/15/2015

Presentation of the Russian Version of the G3ict Report on Internet of Things by UNIC Moscow


On November 24, the Russian edition of G3ict report, “Internet of Things: New Promises for Persons with Disabilities,” was presented to local partners and the media at a well-attended round table meeting at the Moscow office of the World Bank. 

World Bank Moscow Office - Russian presentation of G3ict  Internet of Things

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image: World Bank Moscow Office - Russian presentation of G3ict  Internet of Things. Photo courtesy: UNIC Moscow.

Taking part in the round table – a traditional format for our informal “Group of Friends of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Disabled” – were some 40 representatives of government agencies, pro-disabled rights groups, academics, and the media. In outlining the rationale for our idea to translate the publication, I referred to the track record of this UNIC’s partnership with G3ict. Our previous translations of G3ict publications include: the CRPD 2013 ICT Accessibility Progress Report; Putting e-Accessibility at the Core of Information Systems; Making Mobile Phones and Services Accessible for Persons with Disabilities; Web Accessibility Policy Making: an International Perspective. All of these can be accessed here.

I also emphasized that the authors of The Internet of Things (IoT) report sought to identify the areas where the technology providers, on the one hand, and advocates of the rights of persons with disabilities on the other hand, could join efforts and bring to life new devices that would be cheap enough, easy to use and respond to desiderata of citizens with special needs. To highlight the “business case” for the expansion of IoT I referred to Cees Links, CEO of GreenPeak Technologies, who is quoted in the publication as saying that “IoT will be a major source of wealth creation in the two decades to come.”

Challenges to be addressed before IoT becomes part of our daily life were also emphasized at the launch. In addition to the obvious technical, legal and rights issues, there is a need to fully overcome the stereotypes of treating a disabled person as a mere recipient of care, rather than as an active and full member of society. However – rather unexpectedly – some participants in the round table wished to add extra concerns to the list. “Today, the Internet of Things serves human needs, but what if, some day, we realize that the opposite is true – and human beings will be serving it?” said the head of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Area Office for the CIS countries, Orozobek Kaiykov. He admitted that as a specialist, he saw significant potential in IoT, however, as a consumer, he often wondered how increasingly technology-addicted people become, as devices around them “get smarter.”

Frankly, the prospect of “machines sidelining humans” was not seen as an issue by most of participants. Thus, Denis Rosa, the director of advocacy group Perspectiva, argued that so far, people have had nothing to blame smart devices for. On the contrary, the latter have greatly facilitated the lives of citizens with disabilities. But even the most advanced tablet is not a substitute for normal human communication and interaction, she argued. This is why it is so important that accessible communications technologies be refined, for they will help people with disabilities not only be heard, understood, but also interact with others and better integrate into society.

Conversely, the cost was seen by many participants as a very serious issue. The benefits of IoT, at least for the time being, are not available to all, said Ivan Biryukov, director of the Centre for Social Innovations, adding that the bottle neck was not so much the price tag of the devices as the cost of teaching people with disabilities how to use them.
 
The publication was distributed to the participants who hailed its innovative contents and timeliness. The UNIC Moscow intends to actively use it in its advocacy work (it is also available on our website.

I would like to take this opportunity to express to you and your colleagues my appreciation for the excellent collaboration during all these years. I am planning to retire in December, and consider the continued partnership between the UNIC Moscow and G3ict as an important and original part of my legacy. Hopefully, my successor will start from where I left off.

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Related Resources

Blog: Where does accessibility begin for the Internet of Things Ecosystem? Read Robert Pearson's Article.

Publication: Model ICT Accessibility Policy Report | Download PDF.

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