Sarah Coltrain

Smart Community Corps – Smart Cities for All

Project: Smart Cities for All
Year: 2nd year
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Canton, GA
Notable Achievements/Mentions: Chosen as a SCC intern!
Fun Fact: I can spin a basketball on my finger.

Interning with the Smart Cities for All team has been an eye-opening experience. When something is created and designed, it is mostly likely design for the average able-body person. Being a part of that category, it does not often occur to me how un-inclusive products are for a lot of people and the lack of prioritization for inclusion in the planning process. As someone who wants to work with technology, I am so grateful that I had this experience.

During this internship, I looked at inclusion in the Cities that participated in this project. I specifically researched the City of Woodstock’s City Strategy and Smart Corridor Study and the City of Milton’s Walking School Bus. I initially began with defining inclusion and what it meant it meant to be an inclusive smart city: “Human beings of all abilities, ages, statuses and races equitably benefiting from technology to fully participate in public life as citizens.”

After defining what it means to be inclusive, I began researching precedence cases. I wanted to see how other projects were inclusive to compare them to the ones I was studying. I, then, began exploring the city projects. I focused mainly on how the project excluded people and ways the project could become more inclusive. For example, both the projects administered online surveys as their main method of community outreach and public input. With the surveys being exclusively online, it was not accessible to people who did not have internet access, who was not proficient with technology, and those who had a disability that limits their use of technology. This results in the survey excluding input from those people. The Woodstock team, to be more inclusive, held in-person surveys for 1 out of the 3 surveys they administered for the project. With these in-person surveys, the Woodstock team made a conscious effort to seek out people who are from a diverse demographic to give input. With the Milton survey, they based their accessibility concerns off the city’s demographics. The Milton area is known to be affluent and the city team determined there was no need to offer any public input strategies beyond that. The Milton team did want to expand the project, so it is advised that the surveys become more accessible when they do so. It was information like this that proves not just the product should be accessible, but the process as well.

Along with practices on how to be inclusive, I have learned more teamwork skills, alternative modes of effective communication, and gained more patience with working on an online format. I hope the final report created from my research will be useful tool for the several smart cities to come. Sarah Coltrain

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