“Smart cities are first of all – accessible cities”. This is the motto that leads us whenever we are talking with professionals who work for the municipalities and authorities, and there are 3 simple reasons for that:
1) Inclusion and Equality.
2) Living community.
Before I’ll address each one of the reasons above, I’d like to excitingly share with you that at the beginning of this year, we’ve been fortunate to start our collaboration with the city of Tel Aviv, in Israel and by doing that – turning one of the main street of the city into an audible street for the blind, visually impaired and basically – anyone else with orientation challenges.
Take a minute, to watch the video below to learn more:
Tel Aviv is not the first city who work with us, but it is the first city which took the urban accessibility into a whole new level, that even we didn’t expect. As mentioned before, they had at least 3 good reasons to turn their main street into accessible for the blind, visually impaired and any other person with orientation challenges. Let’s dive into rational thinking behind these reasons:
1. Inclusion and Equality
The city of Tel Aviv is known for it’s liberal, advanced and inclusive culture. This is also the reason why it one names as “the best gay city in the world” by American Airlines. Being an inclusive city attracts many people from outside of the city to come and settle there or at least visit. At RightHear, we are always saying the inclusion starts with accessibility and there is no doubt that the municipality of Tel Aviv, understand that and taking action towards this mission.
2. Living Community.
Accessibility is good not only for people with disability but also for the mainstream. When the city is more accessible, it helps more people to be involved with the activities and daily living community of the city. On one hand, it helps those who need that more, but equally important, it helps the rest of the population to enjoy and interact with the previous audience. In other words, when the urban space is more inclusive – there are more people who can benefit from it and that’s big for all.
If you have ever found yourself next to a store in a foreign country without being able to read the sign on the entrance – you’ll understand this reason immediately. By installing our audible wayfinding solution in the street of Eben Gavirol in Tel Aviv, we have also translated the information into more languages so tourists who visit there – could learn more about the Hebrew letters they see all around them. One of the beautiful parts of accessibility is that when you implement it – you almost always can find other audience who can benefit from it.
Providing better tourism experience in the city is probably on the interest of all cities in the world, and here’s a good example of how accessibility can assist with that goal.
Two months ago, I had a great conversation with James Thurston, the Co-founder and Managing Director of Smart Cities for All, about this subject. During our meeting, James told me about the Smart Cities for All Toolkit which has already been translated into 10 languages. This toolkit contains six tools to help Smart Cities worldwide include a focus on ICT accessibility and the digital inclusion of persons with disabilities and older persons. If you are working as a professional for a municipality and interested in smart city technologies, then I highly recommend you to check this out.
If you are a RightHear user, then I’d like to remind you that our app is also supporting GPS. Therefore, even if your city is not collaborating with us yet – you can still be using our app in the open urban space of your city. While it won’t provide the same updated and precise experience as it is providing in the main street of Tel Aviv, it would undoubtedly better than without it. Give it a try and let us know your feedback!