Nafath

Nafath aims to be a key information resource for disseminating the facts about latest trends and innovation in the field of ICT Accessibility. It is published in English and Arabic languages on a quarterly basis and intends to be a window of information to the world, highlighting the pioneering work done in our field to meet the growing demands of ICT Accessibility and Assistive Technology products and services in Qatar and the Arab region.

The role of smart cities in supporting independent living: A Mada’s Guide for Best Practices

The role of smart cities in supporting independent living: A Mada’s Guide for Best Practices

Mada Center believes that
smart technology
plays a significant role in improving the
lives of people with disabilities, and this
has been reflected in Mada’s strategic
objectives. Mada conducted a specified
best practice report on supporting
independent living for people with
disabilities, and part of it has focused on
the role of Smart Cities.
People with disabilities face some
challenges and constraints including
barriers to accessing services such
as (health, education, employment,
transportation) and limited
opportunities.
There is a noticeable rapid growth
in Smart Cities worldwide, but the
speed of such growth could lead to
a new digital divide for people with
disabilities and the aging population.
To ensure that all citizens including
people with disabilities and the elderly
can benefit from the opportunities that
such initiatives bring we need to make
sure that accessibility and universal
design are integrated into Smart Cities
programs. If accessible technology is
properly deployed in such initiatives
there will be more innovative, equitable
and impactful results across key
areas, including education, healthcare,
and transportation. Technology
companies must seek to provide
products and solutions that support
rich, personalized, citizen-centric
services that serve a broader population
and are usable in a wider variety of
environments.
G3ICT launched the “Smart Cities
for All” Toolkit in efforts to define the
state of Information Communication
Technologies (ICT) accessibility in
smart cities around the world. The
toolkit contains four tools to help Smart
Cities worldwide include a focus on ICT
accessibility and the digital inclusion
of persons with disabilities and older
persons.
Smart Cities and Independent Living
Smart cities seek to leverage digital
data gathered by a wide range of
connected sensors to automate many of the
time-consuming tasks that are undertaken.
For example, personal data would inform us
of the average length of time it takes for a
person to get from their home to the metro
station; and public data would inform them
of when the next metro will reach their stop,
allowing them to plan precisely when to leave
home reducing waiting hours at the metro
station. Similarly, if using personal transport
technology, the combination of personal and
public data could allow a driver to find where
the nearest accessible parking spot is to their
location and even book that space in advance.
Such technologies reduce congestion and
frustration thus improving quality of life. If we
add autonomous vehicles into the equation,
the disabled “driver” could be taken directly to
an accessible parking spot within easy reach
of the building they wish to access simply by
entering a desired destination into an app.
Some of the concepts underpinning a
smart city are already in place. Boarding
passes are delivered to your phone, reducing
time spent in airport queues; notifications
that your restaurant table is available
arrive by SMS; and the arrival of your taxi is
announced by an app.
Providing an accessible digital interface
or technological solution to daily tasks will
benefit people with disabilities and the elderly.
If these solutions aren’t accessible however,
this may act as a barrier to independent living.
MADA has also worked with MOTC to
conduct research on the disabled community
and on improving the accessibility of Qatar
transportation systems. MADA contributed
in organizing focus groups with people with
various disabilities to discuss this topic.
Additionally, Qatar’s Digital Access and Web
Accessibility Policy was implemented at the
national level in 2011, and Mada center has
assisted in the implementation of this policy
through the provision of services, consultation,
training and evaluation to enable access to
all digital platforms on an equal basis with
others.

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