Odisha: Accessibility: Physical infra, digital inclusion on agenda for Bhubaneswar Smart City

Bhubaneswar: As part of its Bhubaneswar Urban Lecture Series, Bhubaneswar Development Authority in collaboration with well-known social service organisation Swabhiman, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation and Bhubaneswar Smart City Ltd today organised a day-long workshop “Smart Accessibility Solutions in Bhubaneswar’’ to discuss on universal design and digital inclusion.
While on the theme of Smart accessibility in Smart Cities through digital inclusion deliberations focussed on topics like Assistive technologies for education and workplace and Making Smart City Bhubaneswar ICT Accessible, a presentation was made on complete streets project in Bhubaneswar. In this unique initiative people from various walks of life including people with disabilities (PWDs), administrators, planners and engineers, NGO members and officials of city agencies were present. National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People and Mphasis, Banglore, supported the event.
Speaking on the occasion Development Commissioner-cum-Additional Chief Secretary – Dr. R. Balakrishnan said “there should be ramps, machines and smart features for visually challenged persons in all new infrastructure projects to come up in the city in the future days.’’
He urged the partnering organisations to work for Odisha Government’s Vision 2036 in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) commemorating the Centenary celebrations of the formation of separate state. He also requested the forum to give suggestions to enrich the document with at least a paragraph. He said to make it more transparent, more inclusive and more accessible
In his address Dr. Krishan Kumar – VC BDA and MD Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited said “Janpath will be the first street in Bhubaneswar to become completely accessible to all citizens including PWDs. For accessible streets we have drafted a street guidelines, which is now open for public opinion. We are going to formalise it soon.’’
“Bhubaneswar is going to have Audio Guides at some of the key traffic junctions to help PWDs. Accessibility to transport is our major concern and it is under process to be devised for the entire city matrix.’’
CEO Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited R Vineel Krishna added “across the Smart City Proposal the various components of it we have included accessibility as a major element so that all citizens will be included in the making of a liveable city with prosperity, safety and equity.’’
Sruti Mohapatra from Swabhiman said “Apart from the physical infrastructure accessibility should be ensured through the various technological interventions and use of tools, IT-based applications to cater to the needs of the PWDs’’.
“National Building Code has recently been reviewed and changed the building regulations to include the needs of PWDs. Technology will play a larger part in ensuring universal accessibility as there have been many new applications and they must be procured for the making of the Smart Cities,’’ added Javed Abidi, Global Chairperson of Disabled People’s International.
James Thurston, Vice-President G3ict said “We need to found out how PWDs learn access to technologies if we want to make Smart Cities inclusive to all citizen groups.’’
Meenu Bhambhani, Vice-President of Mphasis added “Accessible transport is the need of the hour. We have made 50 Uber cabs accessible in Bengaluru. All the drivers were trained for disable people and how to help the PWDs.’’
Founder Director Barrier Break Technologies, Shilpi Kapoor added “Whenever we think about a new technology or tool, the developer needs to consider diverse users for inclusiveness. Every PWD can now use a Smart Phone, but for the same person using the kiosks at our airports has become difficult.’’

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