Smart People: Page 2 of 24

Mon, 2015-10-26 13:58 -- Jon DeKeles
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The human side of technology

Technology for technology's sake rarely serves a useful purpose. The magic in technology is how it can transform lives. Consider these examples:  

Helping the blind navigate the city. The smart stick is an idea that came from a conversation an engineering student had with her blind uncle about the challenges he faced getting around a city. Connecting to the Internet of Things, the smart stick guides the blind safely by accessing information from traffic lights, cross walks, buses and construction and weather reports. Sensors at stores let them know if the store is open, what it sells, where the entrance is, etc. The project, backed by Council member Cisco, was developed by a team from the University of Lorraine in France.

Making cities more accessible for all. Accessible Way is an app developed by Council member IBM to enable citizens to report on mobility issues they spot as they go about their daily lives – roads and sidewalks, crosswalks, curbs, traffic and street lights and such in of need repair. Or when there aren't enough handicapped parking spaces or when road signs are confusing. With just a few taps, people can report the exact location and type of the problem, giving cities detailed information to improve mobility.

Improving the health of people at-risk. Myanmar, which has an exceptionally high rate of infant mortality, is providing pregnant women with a free app from Council member Ooredoo that provides health alerts with care information and locations of medical services. In China, where the textile workforce is predominately uneducated young women, a mobile program from Council member Qualcomm provides access to health servicesand information. Both projects are improving lives for populations that have disproportionately suffered with poor health care.

Helping children learn to read, write and tell stories. In Australia, children who couldn't sit still for even a few minutes dramatically improved their language abilities when the lessons were presented in video game form. A project from Council member Microsoft made it easy for teachers to tailor the game technology to teach specific skills and to encourage the youngsters to practice.

Using open data to improve lives

Smart cities can get more mileage out of their ICT investments when they use analytics to sift the data provided via sensors and other smart devices to surface useful information that can help citizens improve their lives and livehoods. We'll talk in more detail later about the open data movement. You can also download the Council's Smart Cities Open Data Guide for help getting your city started down the open data path. In this section we'll focus more on the benefits to citizens that can come from open data policies.