G3ict, through its Smart Cities for All global initiative, formed a partnership with the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), the world’s largest association of cities, and the World Economic Forum Secretariat for the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance, to help cities worldwide adopt technology procurement policies for accessible information and communication technologies. This session will review the work completed in 2023 by the G3ict Global Advisory Center with an initial cohort of six cities, including Istanbul, Kisumu, Los Angeles, Quito, Sao Paulo and Valongo in implementing a model procurement policy for Smart Cities in support of accessible technologies for city services inclusive of persons with disabilities. Panelists will discuss key learnings from this global endeavor, how technology providers can benefit from offering accessible technologies and services to cities and how they can work going forward with G3ict, UCLG and WEF to further promote good practices in accessible procurement among Smart Cities.

Session Chair: James Thurston, Accessible Digital Transformation Lead, North America, Atos


  • Hannes J. Lagrelius, Program Officer, Global Program for Inclusive & Accessible Urban Development, World Blind Union
  • John Sullivan, G3ict Senior Fellow and Advisor
  • Federico Batista Poitier, Accessibility Policy Officer, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) (remote speaker)
  • Chandra Harrison, Ph.D., Managing Director, Access Advisors

This video is lacking captions. We expect captions by February 14, 2024.


FRANCESCA CESA BIANCHI: Good afternoon, and welcome back. Here we are with a new panel discussion on the Smart Cities For All.

The session is moderated by James Thurston, accessible digital transformation lead, North America for ATOS. And James will introduce the panelists. James, the floor is yours. Thank you.

JAMES THURSTON: Great. Thank you so much, Francesca. And thank you for joining us for a conversation that all our panelists both here in the room and one remote panelist are very passionate about and also doing a lot of amazing leadership on inclusive Smart Cities. We will be coming at it from the perspective of in large part that one of the initiatives that G3ict is leading around the world. Monica was not able to get here from Mexico this week. Do note the name and make sure you reach out to her about some of the great work that you will be hearing about today.

So I'm actually going to ask our panelists to introduce themselves. Federico, I'm going to go to you last. We have one additional panelist, Chandra who will introduce herself. We wanted her as part of this conversation as well.

So with that, if you could each maybe in a couple of minutes let us know your organization, what you are doing and why you care about this issue of inclusive Smart Cities.

HANNES LAGRELIUS: My name is Hannes Lagrelius. I'm from the World Blind Union, the world voice of 253 million persons who are blind or partially sighted. Since a couple of years back I have been coordinating our global program in inclusive and accessible development. Because what we see is that urbanization is rapidly increasing that organizations of Persons with Disabilities are not actively at the table.

JAMES THURSTON: I know that Hannes is on the Advisory Committee of the G3ict Smart Cities For All Initiative. And is providing great collaboration there.

JOHN SULLIVAN: My name is John Sullivan. I have been asked to be an advisor with G3ict to serve as a fellow, just independent. Formally from the U.S. Government where I led the Section 508 Government wide accessibility program. And what I found in this project we're going to talk about is a real nice transition to take everything we have learned and everything we put together and help that, share with that these cities that we will talk about. So it has been exciting.

Hello from me. I'm from New Zealand. I'm the country representative for G3ict in New Zealand. And the inclusive cities and Smart Cities is a real issue in New Zealand. We are at the beginning of our journey. We are talking with Monica at the moment. One of the things that I would like to do is just share the journey of where we started and it is lovely to be invited along. I run a small digital accessibility consultancy in New Zealand. And we have strong connections with Government and with a lot of the Disabled Persons Organizations across the country. So thanks for asking me to be part of this.

JAMES THURSTON: Thank you. And Federico.

FEDERICO BATISTA POITIER: Hi everyone. I hope you can hear me okay. I'm dialling in from Barcelona. It is currently 10 p.m. My name is Federico Batista Poitier. I'm wearing a blue shirt. And I'm known a lot for my smile and my very friendly voice.
Anyway, I'm the disability policy officer at the United Cities and Local Governments, which to be really quick and concise is the largest organization representing local and regional Governments around the world with 250,000 members. And easy way to explain it is kind of the UN of local and regional government.

JAMES THURSTON: Thank you. As a testament to your commitment to driving greater inclusivity in cities around the world and the fact that you are joining us for this conversation at 10:30 at night, we appreciate you dialling in.

You are in different organizations. You are approaching these issues of technology deployment, technology procurement in particular, and inclusion in cities from different organizations and perspectives. And I would love to hear and share with our colleagues how you see the current state. What's it look like today when we sort of do an assessment of accessibility and inclusion in cities, Smart Cities today? I should say for me, I use a pretty broad definition of Smart Cities. If a city has a mobile app and a website and they want to call themselves smart, that's great. But what I want to know is that accessible? Can lots of citizens use that technology that you are buying and deploying? But maybe we'll go in the reverse direction. Chandra, how do things look in New Zealand?

Chandra: We are at the start of the journey. We have a high uptick of technology and real use of technology quite widely across a lot of services. The unfortunate thing is that digital accessibility in voting into the city's infrastructure has kind of been not adopted quite yet. Starting to happen. Certainly COVID was an instigator of change. But at the moment we are very much in our infancy. I'm having trouble here to the U.S. What can happen is really quite exciting. And how we can build accessibility into the infrastructure and into the cities scape, I think that's just amazing. And we probably in New Zealand adopted technology way faster than a lot of companies countries. But we just haven't quite got there with regards to accessibility. So I'm excited to see what's going to happen in the future.

JAMES THURSTON: Yeah, I appreciate the optimism in looking at this as an opportunity of citizens in New Zealand are leading the way in many ways and adopting and deploying technology to support city services and programs. Wouldn't it be great if we got them thinking about accessibility and inclusion?

Chandra: And that's what the goal is, is to encourage them as we are building more and more of that technology to think about the accessibility right from the getgo. Unfortunately, we are not there yet. But we will get there.

JAMES THURSTON: Fantastic. How about from your perspective, how are we doing with cities?

JOHN SULLIVAN: Thanks. I'm coming I worked before with the cities. And each has bits and pieces, they all have the will. They know intellectually they want to do this and they need to do it. How to put it together. How do you get while you have got a built environment today. How do you get what you have to this smart environment. So you will see across the different cities you will see different pieces. One example is Kisumu, Kenya had a definition of an aged person. And they had, you know they know they had a piece, thought piece about who if we do something that's who is going to be affected by it. That's really important.

Quito, Ecuador had the natural law on the natural procurement system which is a procurement policy. They had something. And where in Istanbul they were starting from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. And they had a law on the disabled. And that was the whole discussion, whether or not they should use EN 301549. They had that but they didn't have how centralized or decentralized their IT procurement process was. How do we go about doing this. So what we have been able to do is work with them to, you know, start to frame that policy as the starting point.

JAMES THURSTON: So maybe just to clarify, but the work that you have been doing with G3ict and with Monica has been with a group of cities across different geographies and focused on helping them to adopt a procurement policy. You are seeing in the work you mentioned I think the cities Istanbul, Los Angeles, Quito and Sao Paulo you are seeing some good practices. You are not starting from scratch in these cities.

JOHN SULLIVAN: Most of them are starting from scratch. They all have different components and they need to synthesize and bring them all together.

JAMES THURSTON: We look forward to hearing more about that. Jump back to Federico and then we will come back to you. From the work that you are doing with the UCLG and you are partnering with a lot of different organizations, how does it look from driving UCLG, the focus on accessibility and inclusion, how does it look from your perspective in the work that you are doing when it comes to inclusion in technology and Smart Cities?

FEDERICO BATISTA POITIER: Accessibility is a broad policy within our organization. But to drive it, we have specific members that have been part of our community of practice on inclusive and accessible cities and territories. We have a lot of different contexts, really high income countries with high income local authorities compared to lower income countries which, you know, local authorities that have really limited budget. And I would say that, you know, piggy off of what John was mentioning, one of the first things there is a will there. So I mean as depending on the kind of the will maybe one person, but or maybe a couple different departments, so the will is there. What we're seeing though is them actually having the technical knowledge and information to turn that will into action is the missing point. And the data also to drive that because at the local level, because budgets are quite low and also priorities are always in conflict in some ways, they should work together. 
Though the more data and the more concrete evidence and partnerships that you have we will really drive the mayor or governor or elected official and put that into action. So the current thing I think is really important about having projects like this one from G3ict is really framing the trainer, because we have to train those leaders in the in the municipality, how are they going to drive that and give them the information and also the solid technical expertise that would allow them to come with a concrete request.

So I think cities and local authorities they are on this kind of journey from going to the theoretical part of being a Smart City to a technical part. It is like a journey that's still at the starting point, but I think much stronger than before, there is an actual will and especially from politicians themselves to show that they are doing something related to the global agenda.

JAMES THURSTON: One of the things that I have admired in the work that you have done with UCLG in partnership with the panelists here is taking it beyond the theoretical with these cities and making it tackle and implementible. And we will hear more about that. And from you, too, as we get deeper into the discussion, and our other panelists as well, you are doing this work in different geographies around the world, Global North, Global South, big cities, small cities. Are there different trends that you see, different strategies that you adopt. I would love to hear more about it. Hannes, before we get into that detail, in general at a high level it is the current state that you are working with around the world, how do you think we're doing?

HANNES LAGRELIUS: I like to see discussing digitalization trends. But what we have seen before the pandemic which was a stark reminder is that the world is not where we are supposed to be in terms of accessibility and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We are not where we are hoping to be today. And what we have seen over the course of the last years is in addition to increased urbanization, most of us will reside in cities, is also widening the accessibility gap and the built environment. And so we are always saying we see a crisis on the horizon. The crisis is no longer on the crisis. We see a global accessibility crisis now. And while we are as I mentioned we are becoming urban, already 50% of the population dealing with disabilities and cities globally, face challenges to access to services, transportation, and spaces on an equal basis. If we have that crisis now, it will not go very well.

JAMES THURSTON: As you are working with these cities, thinking about being better able to respond to what very likely be additional crisis coming at any point. And you have thoughts as well. Can we be better positioned by being smarter and more inclusive as cities? Fantastic. Thank you, Hannes. So I would like to jump a little bit now into John. We'll start with you. Some of the work that G3ict is doing and some of these partners with cities around procurement. And what a city buys and how it buys technology that it deploys both to support all of its services. Increasingly these cities are using technology for the critical services that cities provide. And if you live in the city, I actually live here in Washington D.C. and from policing and public safety to transportation to education and courts and justice systems, technology is supporting all of that. Is it inclusive? I think we will find out. But John, a focus of the work that you are doing with Monica and G3ict is procurement. Can you say a little bit about the link between procurement and policies and inclusion in cities?

JOHN SULLIVAN: Yeah. In all any organization, the government, city or otherwise is, you know there is a portfolio of technology. And it is an organizer as organized as it may be. When you come into this notion of we really want to be a Smart City, and it starts, you know, what's the customer experience that you are interacting with this city. And then how in the back end do you make that happen. And there is two dimensions what you are talking procurement. One is going forward. We want we want to be this model city and we want to have these technologies. So we are going to go about and we need to buy new technology, new technology services and how do we make sure through the procurement process that we buy the right and we don't get into contractual arguments. You didn't yeah, you have to ask for what you want. Otherwise you might not get it.

So that's the predominate piece here; you want to make sure your procurement process is cognizant from the getgo. What's available. Tools and steps you may have. Where is the marketplace. How many are accessible. You got to understand that stuff. You have to understand the need. Who is going to use that. That's the focus of that area. 
The other half that is, you know, your existing stock. We have got all this stuff at varying stages of age and, you know, accessibility. And what do we do with that? What do we keep; get rid of? What do we transform into a piece of new architecture that we are going to have? And that's pretty much the task for all of them. All the ones that we have been working with.

JAMES THURSTON: And, John, before we go and talk to you next about the sort of the importance of this link between procurement and inclusion in cities and what they are deploying in Smart Cities, I'm curious, bringing the depth of experience you have with the U.S. federal government, do you think cities or the cities that you are working in, do they see that link? Or is that something that needs to be between procurement and then being more inclusive? Or is that something that needs to be some awareness raising on? Follow up to you.

JOHN SULLIVAN: Okay. No. In many organizations, in these cities the procurement process on its own. And they have certain conditions and stuff. And, you know, and there is a goal to efficiently good procurement to buy the right stuff. Don't take too long. Especially in buying technology, extended to procurement process, technology may have changed by the time you get there. So their benchmarks are to get it done. You make sure it is accessible. They don't know what it means and how to do it. And they do not have a list of things they may have to consider. And this is another speed bump in the procurement process. You have to understand the procurement process, but even before that, the accessibility team has to be known to the procurement people. 
And you have to know what's in the queue to be bought. If you are blindsided by that, if you don't know what your organization is buying and/or building, you are chasing the tail of the dog. And so that's the interrelationship, procurement people need to know you are there to help their process do something better for the city in this case. And that you you are not working at odds with each other. And sometimes that's a difficult conversation.

JAMES THURSTON: We will definitely start digging into a lot of that, of the mechanics of how you approach a city and work with them to improve how they're deploying accessible technology through procurement and being both inclusive and smart. Chandra, I'm curious about New Zealand and how you see this link. All the organizations that you work with there.

Chandra: Thanks. I think one of the things that needs to be made clear straight off the bat, we do not currently have any disability legislation in New Zealand. So there is no enforcement about what we do or how we do it. Yes, there is suggestions from the Government. There are the standards of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. But there is no big stick chasing us down to make those procurement decisions inclusively. So what is happening is that there are little pockets of I suppose Government procurement that do consider accessibility. But to your point, John, often what they're doing is they're just saying to the vender it must be accessible. They don't know what that looks like. They don't know how to check. They don't know whether or not the vender is actually telling them the truth or giving them enough information. And what we are seeing, which is again sorry, Pollyanna being very optimistic.

And my consultancy, what we are seeing are more and more of the Government organizations are actually coming to us and saying we have just purchased, yes, already the horse is bolted but we have just purchased a piece of software. We asked for it to be accessible. They told us it was. But we don't think it is. Can you come in and do a review? And can you prepare a report so that we can hand it back to the vender and get them to fix these things?

So I mean when I'm sort of talking about that the purchasing power we had this discussion before, New Zealand cities are quite small relatively speaking. So most of them don't have massive purchasing power but it is more at that Central Government level. So as soon as the Central Government starts thinking about digital accessibility as a factor in procurement it is a good thing. But they need to also know what it is, what it looks like, how to test it, how people should be proving it. And I think that opening up that communication from a purchaser to the vender and being able to say hey, we know that you see that this was accessible, it is not. And now you need to fix it and we are not paying for it until you do. A lot of organizations do not believe that they have the power to go back to the vender, probably because they're little. They don't necessarily have huge budgets. But as soon as we can give them the tools to ask the right questions, so that they know that they're buying the right thing, but also giving them the power empowering them to go back to venders, that's when we might get the change. But the link coming back to, the link between inclusion and procurement in New Zealand is at the moment it is still after, afterthoughts. What we want to do is push that lift and get them thinking about it earlier. 
But that's very difficult when there is no big step telling them that they have to.

JAMES THURSTON: In New Zealand and I have talked to in the past that link is tenuous. It is a good description. Tenuous between procurement and disability. I like that you mentioned purchasing power. It is even with small cities, in smaller countries. There is still considerable purchasing power there. I think here in the U.S. the Federal Government consumes 25% of all technology purchased. If you add in states and local Governments it is about 40%. Similar in New Zealand.

Federico, are thinking about this link between procurement and inclusion? You work with cities around the world in all geographies, in a whole bunch of different ways. So I'm curious if UCLG has a particular take on that link between procurement and inclusion.

FEDERICO BATISTA POITIER: Yeah, I wanted to thank my colleague saying before with this kind of capacity for local authorities to understand basically that what they're buying is typical. And I think we will probably touch on this later, but it is a critical point that's kind of what we are seeing for the next steps in terms of what we are seeing. This link between procurement and inclusion for UCLG I would say it is quite in a broader sense, it is what actually is being seen at the real level with our members. That there is not a really intrinsic link, not a connection. And that's what is so important about this project and us really taking this project not only from the cities that were part of this pilot but putting in capacity building that you can see there is a link.

There is a lot of disconnect especially in departments to work on inclusion and accessibility and into other departments. Inclusion is seen as something nice to talk about. It can remain at top level without a lot of connection to other departments. And even though the department working on inclusion or accessibility, which is usually connected, you would think inclusion would mean that they would work with other departments. There tends to be that silo. So you would have procurement seen as a completely other issue. So the link although it exists it still needs a lot of awareness with cities to understand that there is a clear link and there is a reason why that department, the procurement department should be connected to a department like exclusion and accessibility department as well as other departments. That's the work that we need to do now. And I think it is important this type of pilot. A lot of cities need their peers to understand that as well.

What's really great with the process is that it provides a baseline and provides a different context. You have cities like Istanbul and Los Angeles, their departments represent a municipality in a smaller place. You can have a place like Istanbul that's 90,000 employees and other cities and counties that represent something more like mentioned in New Zealand that's important in understanding those different contexts. Because it will affect the way that the awareness raising needs to be done and the way that the departments are linked. The link it is there, but it needs a lot more work for cities to do that.

And going back to UCLG that's kind of the real thing that we are looking at, not only having the pilot but turning those pilots into capacity development and connecting the link about because the term smart, especially for our members that are outside of the U.S. particularly, it is the Smart City aspect is still not in their language. And since we are working so much on the localization and how the CRPD connects to the local level. We try to connect that smart, people say smart can be Human Rights based and that's up to the way that you define in your policies and also the type of things that you are procuring to utilize for your public services. In the end I will make your city inclusive concept that hits those targets on the SDGs.

JAMES THURSTON: Thank you. It does remind me as you are talking through the different cities and working with different cities underpinning all of this is the reality that most of humanity lives in an urban environment. And that trend is increasing. And so people with disabilities live in urban environments as well.

So these issues of inclusive Smart Cities as cities are becoming more digital, become critically important. Before we start digging into some of the specifics of your work, all of you in cities and what works and what doesn't work, just any sort of high level thoughts on that link between procurement and inclusion, I admired the fact that the World Blind Union has you and a team focused on urban environments. But you have clearly made that decision at the World Blind Union, this is an area that we need to be focused on.

HANNES LAGRELIUS: Absolutely. From the perspective of the World Blind Union I would say that procurement is absolutely key. Make explicit policy statements about the disability inclusion to a little better, lesser extent in relation to Smart City and deployment of technology. But what we also see is that despite these higher level commitments at the local level is that then procurement is an absolutely important vehicle to ensure that they actually meet the policy commitments. And I think that's a link which is not always seen but it is absolutely critical from our perspective.

Because a city which will rely on procurement processes, not all cities do procurement processes because contexts are different and procurement processes are looking very different across localities and staff resources, et cetera. But what we see is that there is usually not like, you know, a one size fits all approach but we still believe that procurement is key. Because we rely so much on the deployment of technology. And we have explicit commitments to accessibility of services or service delivery. Then, if then procure a product or a service, a facility not enabling us to fulfill our commitment, we will fail in meeting our own commitments and then revert to the same old story with remediation which will take a lot of resources if it will even happen.

JAMES THURSTON: Absolutely. Thank you for that. There is a good opportunity, and forgive me if you were going to mention this later, I know you have developed resources that have procurement as a centerpiece and maybe some of the folks here would like to know.

HANNES LAGRELIUS: Absolutely. I was going to address that a bit later but this is a much better opportunity. So a couple of years back the World Blind Union together with some of our key partners developed an organizational accessibility guide called Accessibility Goal: A Guide to Action, which is framed around seven key commitment areas from the bought environment, ICT communications inclusive employment. But as you highlighted has procurement. Because many organizations that do procurement processes, and there is no blueprint but we wanted to provide a guidance and assessment framework for any type of organization to take stock of where they are in terms of how they address accessibility and procurement process. To take stock of where they are and visualize where they want to go.

So this is quite, I do recommend shaking it out. It is on the World Blind Union's website. It nicely relates to the discussion that we are having today, what procurement will influence if we can reach our objectives of great inclusion of Persons with Disabilities.

JAMES THURSTON: Thank you. I'm a big admirer of that resource. Absolutely encourage you to check out the World Blind Union website. Let's start digging into what works and what doesn't work, and the experience that all of you have working with cities on driving greater accessibility in inclusion working with Smart Cities.

John, I know the work that you are doing with Monica and the Smart Cities For All and the G3ict global advisory center, please feel free to expand and correct me, but basically helping these cities that you are working with around the world adopt a policy, a model policy that was created with the G20 alliance and other organizations that tell the city how to be better at buying technology that's accessible and inclusive which is great. As you are doing that work and maybe even reference some of the cities that you have worked with, when you go into a city and I will come to the rest of you on the rest of this as well, are there key parts of the city, what are you looking for as connection points in that city to start driving this work forward of getting them to adopt a policy for better procurement of accessible technology?

JOHN SULLIVAN: Yeah, I would start with I think that everyone in this room knows you have to have the right people in the room. The will. It has to have roots. I talked earlier about some of the existing policies in the in the disability rights space, in the procurement space. You got and national laws. For some you have to pick (?). And then for Quito that was a question on the table. They weren't really held. Istanbul and they felt, because, you know, their commitments is part of the EU, EU standard.

You got to have that. You have got to I understand how you are going to mull it. What we did with each of the four cities that I worked on was just here is how you put together what your policy needs to be. And had things that you would expect but had to be grounded. But and you can look at the details, all the pieces there. What was most important is that you have to have kind of crossreferencing of policies. Because you can come up with a great accessibility policy. And hide it in the back room and no one knows it exists. So as you go back to, you know, your procure policy, it has to have from that angle over, it has to reference back, so that you have the you can't go through the procurement process without having the accessibility, the tend to research put in place. The evaluation. They have put into the contract. How who is going to do the testing? Is it the customer? Vender? If you don't ask for it you can't be sure you are going to get it.

It has to be grounded. The people last session is all about the user experience and your customer experience. And that's driven by a different team of people in the city that want to improve your citizen services. So you got to connect to there. Connection back to the legal background, your legal office has to understand what you are doing and you get into some of the technical details about legal signatures, et cetera. And what constitutes that. 
And that's why building a accessibility program manager can talk in all these different dimensions. And that's really key to being able to pull it off.

JAMES THURSTON: John, and I will come to you Federico, next on this, did you find that the work, was it easier or harder to pull any different groups in the city?

JOHN SULLIVAN: I think they had had the ground swell of energy in the room. Just by, you know, who showed up at in the meetings. And it was, you know, a wide they had a lot of people involved in the beginning. And then as you go further into the process, you know, everyone's busy. But you it boils down to who is doing it. Accommodation of the procurement people but led by the IT people. They are the ones they understand what's involved in to become a Smart City. Here from the others, let's do this in an accessible manner. But again it is the forefront of they you have to understand the procurement process in your particular organization, how do they work and how do they make their decisions and fit into that.

JAMES THURSTON: That's. Federico, playing off of that and you mentioned in your remarks a bit about roles and parts of city organizations. And you know better than most people that cities are structured and governed in different ways. Strong City Councils, city manager approach and the cities that you have been working with on this issue of inclusion and accessibility and procurement, are there key parts of the city that you look to first? Try to pull in, first evangelize to the rest of the departments that need to be there?

FEDERICO BATISTA POITIER: Yeah. I would say the lucky thing with the community of practice it is it is kind of an interesting laboratory. Because the majority of the people are not really from the same department. They tend to be people who have a connection already with disability in their personal life, either a person with a disability themselves or they are taking care of an older relative. We have a range of things from somebody that's, you know, a subdirective department to somebody who is a municipal Councillor. We do have somebody who is a mayor. But I would say ideally that ideal world, I would always look towards the City Council as a key connection to make because they usually in the work that we are doing, City Council members have such a faster way to connect with all the different departments. And the way that they connect with the head, whether it is the governor or the mayor is goes a lot faster and that tends to have much more ownership from the cities as opposed to a department head which is still very good.

But it can at the time to really execute a project or something you will see there hasn't really been a link and that can really limit it. In reality the most important thing is finding those key people. And one thing that we do in UCLG, especially when the department head maybe doesn't have that really clear link to the international relations department, what we try to do is provide that capacity that creates an incentive from the higher ups. It has been a real tool for city officials who are maybe not so linked to the broader agenda to take that forward to say we are working with this global organization who is connecting with the UN's work. That becomes a bit more attractive, but it is a good way to get more attention on those departments that some most of the time are not getting enough both at the decision level and the financing level.

So I would say first you are looking for that person who is going to put the work in. That really wants to see that. And luckily which has been the majority of the case with the cities that we have been working with, there always tends to be which is representative of disability around the world, somebody who has that connection. And I think that that it shouldn't be that way. But that's kind of the driving force right now and it has been a gamechanger because you can see that when you combine efforts with partnerships, with, you know, a leadership role and tools, you can really get people's attention more on the subject.

And we're mentioning it earlier, nobody wants to exclude but it is just making that a real priority and showing people that this is not just something nice to work on but it is also very innovative. It provides a legacy of the city that cities are wanting to have. They want to be that innovative people centered city. When that city official leaves, it is like wow, this was amazing government. It is a way for cities to tell a story that becomes a legacy of that city. The more the legacy becomes a part of the city the stronger it is to keep going on after the change in government happens.

JAMES THURSTON: Thank you for focusing a bit on the importance of the City Council, both for their connections to different departments and bringing them in. But ultimately in many cities they are going to be providing the funding to purchase technology and to support implementation of policies and holding the executive branch accountable. If the City Council can enshrine one of these procurement policies, it will transcend the mayor. Thank you for raising that. Would you like to chime in as you are starting to work with the city? Are there pressure points

Chandra: It is interesting. I kind of think if I could flip that on its side, should these activities actually happen. So they are not happening at all in New Zealand at the moment. But I think of an example that ten years ago, my home city was pretty much decimated by a pretty nasty series of earthquakes. Everyone was really, really trying to figure out how can we rebuild the city in a way that was built for the future. The unfortunate thing we didn't have anybody that heard that voice to stand up and say, hey listen, can we build in an accessible city. We used accessible city or the term was used in a much more hey, we want people to come. Not as in we want people to be able to use and interact. It was a much broader use of the word accessible.

I kind of think at that time there was opportunities to help people with disabilities. On any given day will be different than it was the day before, because roadwork is happening and buildings are changing and the sidewalks are broken in various different places. 
And one of the things that's come out after sort of in the recent years is a lovely mapping app that actually helps you find your way from point A to point B. But if we thought about that ten years ago, when this first happened, or implemented some of this smart technology way back then we could have made it a whole lot easier now.

You mentioned earlier, John, about the legacy technology, and I think the place that we need to start in New Zealand is now moving forward, not going back, but moving forward what can we do to build stuff and right now, if we try to go back and fix or remediate or replace, I don't think we have got the finances or the appetite to do that. If we can try and influence the Councillors, the Government, Central Government, certainly is currently listening.

I don't know if they were the UN, the CRPD review was earlier on this year. And New Zealand did not get a good report card. It is the people who have the power to change or to make decisions. But I hear you. It is really important that we have advocates from the community who are driving that change. Because, you know, random Councillor X is not going to speak up unless somebody is whispering in his ear or that particular Councillor has experience in the disability space. 
And but yeah, I think it should have happened right at the beginning, but we will get there.

JAMES THURSTON: I like the focus on, you know, in adversity there the ability to rebuild. I come to you on this question of who should be engaged. Thank you for raising the disability community in the city. Need to be a part of the conversation about how we use procurement policy to advance inclusion in Smart Cities. But before we go on to the next question I will come to you on this one, of who do we engage. The next question we will get to a lightning round of a couple lessons learned and best practices. Hannes, anything you want to add to your working with cities around the world through the World Blind Union? Are there key parts of the city or the community that you try to make sure are included and included early?

HANNES LAGRELIUS: Yeah, to build on previous points mentioned, what we have seen in our work, including together with United Cities and Local Governments but the United Nations Human Citizens Program there is an increase in accessibility from UCLG and UNHabitat. We have also seen in the sort of local and regional Government space there is no sort of disagreement about the why aspects. Why isn't critical but rather how to do it.

And I think the work highlighted previously around the model procurement policy and many of the initiatives really led by (?) is about the how. And that's also a prospective we take in the World Blind Union. It relates to engagement aspects.

Building on to the next question, that for us we have seen a history where many times the organized constituencies of Persons with Disabilities have not had a seat at the table in relation to urban planning and design and the development and creation of our cities. That's what we are trying to address. Throughout our membership that's what we hope to see also increase in the future. That the organized constituency have an active role. But active, have an active role as an expert at the local level. Imagining that you are sitting in a meeting or throughout the process with a city architect at the balanced level, where you feel your experiences are accounted for and you feel you have something to take away from that process.

JAMES THURSTON: Fantastic. Before we collect in to see if there is questions from you and the audience, maybe I can ask you quickly, just one or two best practices or good practices or lessons learned, things that people who may be thinking about engaging with their city on procurement and inclusion, might want to bring to their experience based on what you have done with cities. Any lessons learned or best practices?

JOHN SULLIVAN: I'm going to go on what we have been discussing about. You have to have champions internal and external. And the external to survive. The internal will come and go faster than the external. You need that push to go through. This is not going to happen overnight. And you have got to have that. And then but and internally usually the process for ensuring dimension of built out IT, look at what's going on for security. There is all kinds of security checks and balances. So as you emulate whatever your organization, your city is used to doing for maintaining security, and just apply accessibility to it, you have got kind of the precedent set. And you can follow that.

JAMES THURSTON: Fantastic. Champions. And leverage your approaches to security and governance systems. Do the same thing or similar for accessibility in the city. Fantastic. 

Chandra: Two things. One is this one of the bonuses that has happened is that as the disability community has started to drive for innovation and Smart Cities and smart information, one of the things that is actually piggybacking off existing technology and creating solutions that work for disabled people and work for everyone, the snap, send, sell. But what we have done is New Zealand, they have decided to us the existing infrastructure. We can report there is somebody who has not got a mobility pass in a mobility car park. So that's one thing.

The other thing is that actually we are just engaging with Monica right now to have a conversation around hey, how could New Zealand take all the tools that have been built over the years and implement them. And our country, rather than a city, but in a country that doesn't have that legislation to drive it. Doesn't necessarily have the visibility that we do elsewhere and currently doesn't have a lot of the infrastructure that I see elsewhere. So yeah. I'm really excited about that, what we can do. So yeah.

JAMES THURSTON: Fantastic. I love the example of leveraging existing smart solutions to put in the city, more inclusions. Lessons learned or best practices you have put together over the years?

FEDERICO BATISTA POITIER: One of the things that I like within this project having the connection, what they are doing already at the beginning of local organizations. And we have this already, working on this right now. But this came up, you know, during the project and something that we can do initially at the beginning of the project. Already put that as a prerequisite.

Cities are looking to engage effectively organizations of Persons with Disabilities but they don't know how. Putting that into the process is important. Another thing that I'm really interested to see and kind of this after adoption phase is something that now that we have this policy, what technology is out there that is accessible that we could put in our actual implementation strategy. So I'm really interested to see how we can work together with partners to create some kind of database of solutions. And really interestingly enough we were in the rights Forum last week, we had a representative from SK Telecom on the panel with us. And it was a perfect way, like a narrative because we talked about the learning projects, kind of the main outcomes, partners work together. The universal design director was presenting this. Private company having a limitation of how this solution would look like in other places.

Would love to see something like this as part of strategy on their procurement policy. So that's a solutions database and kind of creating a good connection between that public and private sector would be an excellent way to grow this project. That solutions database would get bigger and a growing resource of accessible technology. So when you have your procurement policy you are like hey okay, if I need a transportation app or an app for medical services, let me go into the database and look for what I'm looking for and that accessible technology would be there.

JAMES THURSTON: We have talked about engaging organizations of Persons with Disabilities. The companies that are creating these smart solutions. Hannes, any best practices or lessons learned?

HANNES LAGRELIUS: I think there is a lot. Maybe not all good best practices. But, of course, there is a lot of learning. Talking about what is best because context are always different. There are good practices, but it could be best for that specific city, of course. I think and we have already touched upon this previously. One key learning that we see as a bottleneck is the lack of coordination. Sometimes disability or and/or accessibility seen as very narrowly, very siloed. I was talking about before, maybe we know the why but not the how. What we also see is that many times yes, we are very committed to accessibility, et cetera. But then only talk about ramps. And we all know and I think that's something which has come up a lot during the conference for the last few days is that accessibility so much more. It is very comprehensive. It requires a wholistic approach.

So we have seen that together with the fact that in our experiences from being engaged at the global level and regional level. What is meant is availability or affordability but not accessibility. Moving forward we believe that the best practice or the good practice, I would say the best practice, there is one best practice. It is engagement. And it is when the local and regional Governments together with industry academia and the organizations of Persons with Disabilities are actually working together to find the best solutions for that situation, for that context which is responding to the rights, needs and requirements.

JAMES THURSTON: That's fantastic. I like ending the session on breaking down silos and scaling. With that we are out of time. I would encourage you all to talk to some of these panelists. They do fantastic work around the cities. And reach out to Monica who is doing work with Smart Cities. Thank you.

FRANCESCA CESA BIANCHI: Thank you very much, James and the panelists. Great panel. I would like to invite you to remain in the ballroom for the keynote address with Peter Korn, director of accessibility at Amazon devices and services. We will take a few minutes' break to allow participants to come back from their own sessions. We will start at 5:30 here back in the ballroom. Thank you. 

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