The Minister for Housing & Urban Affairs & Petroleum and Natural Gas, Shri Hardeep Singh Puri presented Smart Solutions Challenge & Inclusive Cities Awards 2022, here today. These awards are an initiative of the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) and the United Nations (UN) in India to address city-level accessibility and inclusion challenges faced by persons with disabilities (PwD), women and girls, and the elderly. The UN Resident Coordinator in India, Mr Shombi Sharp, the Joint Secretary and Mission Director, Smart City Mission, MoHUA, Shri Kunal Kumar and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.
Shri Puri said “I am thoroughly impressed at the creative capacity of the innovative solutions as well as their potential to change lives of persons with disabilities, women & older persons. The best solutions are always simple, cater to specific pain points, have clear benefits, and are widely accepted by users. These solutions will be instrumental in integrating universal design, which will help achieve SDG target 11.7- to provide safe, inclusive & accessible, green & public spaces for all vulnerable communities.”
The Minister said that India expanded the list of recognized disabilities from 7 to 21 after the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act of 2016. This implies that a significantly higher number of people live with some form of disability in India than earlier estimated, he added.
Shri Puri said that Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) reflect the philosophy that the Modi govt had already put in place the SDG-2030 implemented by the UN. “We are moving from Sarvodaya to Antyodaya – leaving no one behind or putting farthest first, he said. The success of SDG will come because they have succeeded in India. For the success of SDG, it is important that India performs well on these goals, he added.
Shri Puri said that while strengthening fundamental rights for persons with disabilities, greater emphasis has been laid on the importance of fundamental duties and this is what the Prime Minister sought from every Indian when he spoke of the “Paanch Pran” to make India a developed country by 2047 in his recent Independence Day address. The Prime Minister encouraged Indians to perform their duties responsibly and faithfully, and develop a sensitivity within themselves to act for the betterment of fellow Indians, he added.
Shri Puri said that our cities need citizen-centric and participatory solutions that create an ecosystem where Indians are more empathetic to the needs of persons with disabilities. He further said that assistive technology, in particular, already has market viability in India. We must capitalise on these trends to build accessible and inclusive urban spaces, he added.
Saying technology is one mechanism through which we can level the field and provide and accessible and inclusive environment for persons with disabilities, the Minister said that advocacy and awareness-generation are equally essential in removing the stigma around disability. He further said that it is encouraging to see that indigenous technology has been leveraged by local entrepreneurs in developing the solutions for this Smart Solutions Challenge. The Integrated Command and Control centres (ICCC) in all the 100 smart cities have become functional, and they are playing an important role in harnessing technology for better coordination within the cities, he added.
Launched this April, the Smart Solutions and Inclusive Cities Awards 2022 was designed with the aim of promoting people-centric design and to foster novel home-grown technological innovations and solutions.
Over 100 entries were received through an open call for applications, out of which the top 10 technology-based innovations were identified as winning solutions after an intensive round of screenings and shortlisting by an eminent 7-member jury panel. The top 10 technology-based solutions were awarded the Inclusive Cities Awards 2022;
Category 1: Early-stage Innovations
Fifth Sense by Glovatrix Pvt. Ltd
Digital Mobility Subsidy by Ola Mobility Institute
AxcesAble Places by AxcesAble Designs LLP
Category 2: Market-ready Solutions
Mouseware by Dextroware Devices
Signer.AI by Incluistic Pvt. Ltd. / Friends for Inclusion
IncluMaps by Vikas Upadhyay, Research Scholar, IIT Delhi
Category 3: Implemented Solutions
Multi-Dimensional Inclusiveness: Using Advanced Technologies for Education and Literacy by Belagavi Smart City Ltd.
myUDAAN by Tekra Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
‘Moving with Pride’ (Mo Bus and Mo E-Ride) by Capital Region Urban Transport (CRUT), Odisha
Nirbhaya App by Sagar Smart City Ltd.
A ‘Compendium of Smart and Innovative Solutions for an Inclusive & Accessible Urban Future’ was also launched. The compendium compiles selected solutions that were shortlisted for Phase 2 of the evaluation process, to document and disseminate information about the available technological innovations and good practices within India which can further be used as a resource by urban practitioners in cities and countries across the world, particularly in lower-income settings.