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Smart Cities Must Also Be Accessible Cities Say Global Leaders as They Prepare to Meet in Barcelona and London

After engaging city and national leaders at a Roundtable in Quito, G3ict and World ENABLED will now convene experts and stakeholders in Barcelona and London to define how to promote ICT accessibility in smart cities there.

ATLANTA (November 22, 2016) —

The Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs (G3ict) and World ENABLED organizations are bringing their international “Defining Accessible Smart Cities” initiative to Europe with events planned in both Barcelona (November 23) and London (November 28).  G3ict and World ENABLED will convene government, industry, and civil society leaders in both cities to explore how to ensure that smart cities are inclusive of persons with disabilities and older persons.  With support from the Microsoft corporation, G3ict and World ENABLED are leading a global effort to define how cities can leverage accessible technology to address this digital divide.    

Last month world leaders met in Quito for the 3rd United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) to adopt a new urban agenda. At Habitat III, G3ict and World ENABLED spearheaded the conversation on accessible and inclusive smart cities through a series of conference sessions and an experts roundtable discussion. G3ict and World Enabled are partnering with local governments and organizations to hold similar expert roundtable discussions in Barcelona on November 23 and London on November 28.

“Technology is changing how we as citizens interact with the cities in which we live – be it education, employment, health care, or transportation. As we continue to move to an increasingly digital world, we must ensure that our urban planners, governments, service providers, and technology leaders are constantly pushing for greater digital inclusion,” said James Thurston, Vice President, Global Strategy and Development, G3ict “We can’t achieve the goal of ‘leaving no one behind’ if we are not taking full advantage of how technology can include persons with disabilities and older persons,” he added.

Barcelona and London have been at the forefront of deploying technology solutions to urban challenges. Both cities also have a longstanding commitment to the inclusion of persons with disabilities and older persons. The upcoming G3ict and World Enabled expert roundtables will create the opportunity to learn from the experiences of these two cities and provide a platform for defining future success for inclusive smart cities. The events in both cities will highlight leading local initiatives and technology solutions.  In Barcelona, participating organizations will include, among others, the City of Barcelona, the Microsoft Corporation, the City of l’Hospitalet, the Rovira Beleta Accesibilidad company, and the Fundación ONCE.  In London, participating organizations will include AbilityNet, the British Computer Society, the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, and several leading technology companies and disability organizations.

Emphasizing the importance of creating smarter and more accessible cities, Dr. Victor Pineda, President, World ENABLED said, “The local civic leaders have a tremendous opportunity to get digital accessibility right, but equally a huge responsibility not to perpetuate the types on exclusions that have left persons with disabilities and older persons behind.”

This feeling was echoed by Jenny Lay-Fleurrie, Chief Accessibility Officer at Microsoft. “We are deeply committed to helping cities, like Barcelona and London, become even more digitally inclusive. Our support toward the work being led by G3ict and World ENABLED is reflective of this commitment,” Lay-Flurrie said.

The objective of the G3ict and World ENABLED “Defining Accessible Smart Cities” initiative  is to increase awareness of the need for greater digital inclusion of persons with disabilities and older persons in smart cities and to build a set of tools to support governments, industry, civil society, and academia in focusing on accessibility in smart cities. The toolkit will include model policies, an inventory of ICT accessibility standards, examples of technology solutions, KPIs, best practices, and capacity building and outreach strategies.

About G3ict

G3ict – the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies – is an advocacy initiative launched in December 2006 by the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development, in cooperation with the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at UN DESA.  Its mission is to facilitate and support the implementation of the dispositions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) promoting digital accessibility and Assistive Technologies.

About World Enabled

World ENABLED is a global education, communications, and strategic consulting group that supports companies and governments with the full implementation of legal mandates that promote the rights of persons with disabilities. Our fieldwork and research initiatives are focused on urban planning and inclusive urban policy development. We help our clients create an inclusive human and civil rights approach to disability programs and policies. With our international partners we work to build inclusive societies where people with disabilities can develop their talents, skills and abilities and reach their full potential.


Contact: James Thurston, Vice President, Global Strategy and Development, G3ict at