By 2050, 15% of the 6.25 billion people living in urban areas will be those with disabilities,
That’s 937.5 million people.
Mobility challenges, or challenges people face when dealing with transportation can affect both people living with disabilities or those with short-term mobility challenges like pregnancy or traveling with a young child or infant.
As urban areas change into smart cities, we need to consider accessibility points in terms of mobility. See below for what a long-term and short-term solution may be.
Smart cities use connectivity to improve these 4 areas of life:
- Safety & security
- Mobility & accessibility
- Eco-friendly sustainability
- Social welfare
But to truly be a smart city, these benefits must be available to everyone. But unfortunately, people living with disabilities or mobility challenges are often excluded from considerations in developments.
In fact, 28% of people with disabilities reported rarely leaving their homes due to transportation challenges. Those with mobility challenges have a range of abilities and challenges. Each method of transportation, while having some advantages, also come with their own limitations.
When planning for wider implementation and adoption, several questions must be asked from different points of view.
- What is the maximum trip distance and duration?
- Are the operation hours substantial?
- Is the method wheelchair / cane / walker-accessible?
- Do they need a specialized license for usage?
- Are the methods affordable for routine and consistent usage?
- Are groups (e.g., guardians and children) able to accompany the passenger?
- Will drivers be able to maintain / operate assistance mechanisms?
But what about Autonomous Vehicles?
While autonomous vehicles may be a solution in the future, the technology still requires a “driver” that can manually take over in case of emergency, which not everyone with a mobility challenge is able to do.
Other methods like fixed route transit may be possible in the future, but to be renewed on a larger scale in an entire city is likely to take time to research, develop, and implement.
The solution, for now, points to a dedicated fleet / ride service that is low-cost and accessible in user interface, as well as vehicle. By pushing for policies and regulations to be more inclusive in building smart cities, we can ensure that the real vision of a smart city is realized.
Download our relevant ebook, here.