The death of a young mother who fell in a New York City subway station at the beginning of February has drawn scrutiny to the inaccessibility of public-transit systems.
Let’s face it, transporting a baby in an urban environment can be a challenge. Moms, dads and those around them have all taken part in the struggle. Strollers are just not conducive to city life – revolving doors, subway stairs, crowded streets or streets not cleared for snow make it tough to maneuver with a baby in tow.
The definition of a “smart city” according to Wikipedia is, “an urban area that uses different types of electronic data collection sensors to supply information which is used to manage assets and resources efficiently. This includes data collected from citizens, devices, and assets that are processed and analyzed to monitor and manage traffic and transportation systems, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, law enforcement, information systems, schools, libraries, hospitals, and other community services.”
Sounds comprehensive, right? It’s smart, which occurs when ICT (Information and Communications Technology) is used to enhance the quality of life, reduce costs and augment contact between citizens and their government. When talking about enhancing the quality of life, smart cities should be viewed through distinct lenses. How would a city be viewed/experienced by someone with a musculoskeletal disease that forces him/her into a wheelchair, or a mental health condition that makes getting around safely difficult? Someone who is blind or deaf for example.
Equally challenging is something that sounds minor but is a major challenge for every city these days – the lack of public toilets. Folks must develop steel bladders or seek out unconventional ways of relieving themselves. Both options are terrible. The Geme.io app displays public toilets and toilets offered by businesses on a virtual map so that they are easy to find.
If young folks designed cities, charging your smartphone would be a human right. There would be slow lanes on cycle paths for cruising, and for skateboarders, scooters and children learning to ride. Anyone posting a “no playing games” sign would be fined for anti-social behavior. Playgrounds would stay open late.
So how would the baby or toddler-friendly city look like? Let’s ask a kid … “I love riding my bike with mum, especially on paths that are wide where we can bike slowly. I can do things on my own and it’s fun. In the winter, it’s not so nice when mum can’t take me out because we don’t know if the streets will be cleared for snow. Then we have to stay inside, and that’s a bummer. I also love the playgrounds especially when we know where there are others like me with whom I can play with. And I don’t like that we always need to hide somewhere when she needs to feed me or when we need to walk kilometers to find a public toilet to change my diaper. And if we need a car, our city now has car-sharing, allowing families to live ‘car-free’ and only access a car when necessary.”
Smart kid, and dear baby, we have good news, help is already here. The Geme.io app makes it very easy for your mum. With the help of information from the city, planned street snow clearings can be reported ahead of time and other friendly mothers can volunteer information on literally everything which is dropped on the virtual map in real-time. Geme.io makes the city more functional, where mums can create location markers for great clean toilets, post when they’re going to the playground and create a location marker asking if there are other mums nearby with kids between 12-14 today.
The list of what a smart location-based app such as Geme.io can do is endless. Let’s make the smart city functional together – for mums, their kids, and society as a whole.