Major cities are facing major crises. The United Nations estimates that by 2050, almost one billion people with disabilities will live in cities, representing 15% of total city dwellers. With urban landscapes awash with inaccessible subways, shops, and bathrooms, the UN has declared that poor accessibility represents a major challenge for cities. At the same time, most cities around the world are struggling to provide safe, respectable, affordable housing for their citizens, with rent accounting for more than 50% of some incomes. The World Economic Forum recently warned that “a world in which only a few can afford housing is not sustainable.” At a time when the future of urbanism is increasingly being defined by new technologies designed to enhance the everyday life of the user, architects and urbanists must remember that a smart city is an accessible city, and also an affordable city. As discussed at the beginning of our monthly study on accessibility, it is important to note that a truly accessible city is one where people of all abilities, incomes, races, genders, and religions, can live and thrive in an urban environment centered on the human experience.
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