Ep 178 – Making Our Cities Smarter & More Accessible

Welcome to a new series on the Workology Podcast we are kicking off that focuses on the future of work. This series is in collaboration with the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology or PEAT.

Accessibility isn’t just limited to our workplaces. It’s about our communities and places ourselves, our friends and families call home especially our urban areas. These urban areas are commonly referred to as “smart cities” but it’s more than that.

A special thank you to our podcast sponsor is ClearCompany

Episode 178: Smarter Cities with Megan Lawrence (@accessgeo) and Laura Ruby (@lauraruby )

A smart city 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 is 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.

60% of accessibility experts believe today’s Smart Cities are failing persons with disabilities. Click To Tweet

So for today’s podcast, we’re going to talk about challenges facing smart cities, success stories, and how we can help as HR leaders and business professionals.

Our podcast guests are Megan Lawrence and Laura Ruby. Megan Lawrence is an accessibility technology evangelist at Microsoft. Megan builds trusted relationships with customers, NGOs, and Assistive Technology partners to further Microsoft’s mission of empowering every person and organization to achieve more through the lens of inclusion.

Laura Ruby is the Director, Worldwide Accessibility Public Policy & Standards with Microsoft. She coordinates the company’s efforts to make products and services accessible to users with disabilities. Prior to her role at Microsoft, she worked at AT&T as a member of the global corporate accessibility team.

Accessible & Smart Cities Create More Employment Opportunities

Cities are where people including those with disabilities live, work, and play. Megan says that employment does not start when you walk into the door of your workplace. Cities and employers are part of the larger ecosystem driving business, economy, and culture. Smart cities help support the whole employee from getting the education, to having accessible transportation, to providing that pathway for people to get that dream job that they always wanted.

Both Megan and Laura share that cities are often the largest employers the inclusive accessibility maturity model for smart cities really takes a look at how that city is creating an inclusive work environment for people with disabilities. Some statistics are showing that unemployment for people with disabilities has increased just ever so slightly instead of declining. If we’re really going to change the unemployment rate for people with disabilities it’s going to take all of us coming together to provide that support system.

Live, Work, Play

Smart cities are an important part of making not just cities but the lives of those who live and work within our cities a more inclusive and accessible place. As a data nerd, I am really interested in how technologies and tools can help improve a cities operation, support offerings and infrastructure. I love Microsoft’s involvement and the work that G3ict is also doing.

I find the use of technology and data extremely interesting and not unlike what we’re trying to do in HR pulling all our data and information from various technologies and systems into a unified place. Maybe the smart cities model might be a model for our own workplace data and analytics.

Connect with Megan Lawrence and Laura Ruby.


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*A special thank you to my production team at Total Picture Radio.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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