‘Smart Citizen’ Involves People in the Construction of their Cities.
The number of people in the EU aged 65 or over is set to nearly double, from 85 million in 2008 to 151 million in 2060. At the same time, 80% of older people in developed countries already live in urban areas.
Both demographic shift and urbanisation are major changes our societies are facing. These changes imply major socio-economical, technological and environmental challenges to be addressed to ensure and further improve the quality of life of all generations while reducing inequalities and combating social exclusion.
According to WHO, the physical and social environments are key determinants of whether people can remain healthy, independent and autonomous long into their old age. Built living environments influence indeed our activity patterns, mental and physical well-being. They should be able to compensate for physical and social changes associated with ageing; prevent inhabitants from becoming dependent and cater for the needs and preferences of their inhabitants by becoming more adaptive, inclusive and supportive for all citizens, regardless of their age, conditions and abilities With age-friendly environments, we can remove barriers and empower people to age in better physical and mental health, promote their social inclusion and active civic participation, and help them maintain a good quality of life.
Urban design is a key component of age-friendly cities, impacting built environment, outdoor spaces, accessibility, mobility, social interaction opportunities, feeling of safety, and more generally the social inclusion of all generations. Good outdoor design, accessible transport, access to adequate and timely information and provision of social and civic participation spaces are essential to activate the full potential of older persons and make mobility and/or virtual participation possible for all.
We therefore think that the EIP SCC must address population ageing as one of the greatest dimension to bear in mind when building smart cities, i.e. support everyone’s participation and inclusion and address citizens’ various needs and wishes. To do so, cities must indeed gain better insights on their citizens’ lives and on how to engage them.
Within the EIP SCC, we commit to support public authorities to better understand older citizens’ needs by developing methodologies to enhance older persons’ meaningful involvement in the relevant decision-making processes. To do so, we will use tools and methodologies developed within the AFE INNOVNET network on innovation for age-friendly environments, the MOPACT project and the CAP4Access platform.
We are also more than willing to receive information on what cities are already doing to improve the quality of life of their older inhabitants, collect good practices, share existing methodologies and indicators, and, in fine, discuss ways to build synergies between age-friendly cities and smart cities.
This commitment has been submitted by AGE Platform Europe, the Council of European Regions and Municipalities and Polibienestar.