Friendly Cities for All

Hiri Lagunkoiak denontzat/Friendly Cities for All is an interdisciplinary action-research ini¬tiative using service-learning and OpenStreetMap tools with the three-fold purpose of heightening awareness of functional diversity and social inclusion, making collaborative diagnoses using an open-source software app and acting to overcome barriers that limit the accessibility for all in our cities. The project brings together the learning side (awareness + development of technological skills) with the service side (diagnoses & incident/reporting actions).

It is a social innovation initiative for the construction of friendly cities for all that seeks to meet social needs not currently catered for by the market or the pub¬lic sector, thus opening up a space for public engagement.

The Friendly Cities initiative (http://ciudadesamigables.org) was set up as a service-learning project for adolescents on the theme of social inclusion, enabling them to learn about human rights and shortcomings in accessibility in our sur¬roundings. The main goal of Friendly Cities is to change things by socializing the issues brought to light via accessibility reports submitted to those in authority.

University of Deusto contacted schools and high-schools as the natural settings for the initiative. To help enhance awareness they invited people with actual mobility problems to take part, via organizations that represent them.
Friendly Cities for All pursues three main goals:

1. To engage the public – especially young people – by creating knowledge on matters of urban accessibility.

2. To bring to light the existence of barriers to universal accessibility in cities, specifically from the perspective of physical/motor skills difficulties, and to involve young people in the search for solutions.

3. To develop a platform for visualising and analysing indicators that can help set up user-friendly/safe routes1 and at the same time to prepare urban accessibility reports.

With the support of community experts, adolescents and people with reduced mobility, the project encourages students to map the environment while sharing it in the free software tool called OpenStreetMap (OSM) http://www.openstreetmap.org/ and outline a report with improvement proposals to submit to the corresponding public administration or other interested organizations.

The data that the participants themselves have assessed and shared openly on OpenStreetMap can be seen colour-coded in traffic light form at ciudadesamiga¬bles.org (spanish website), including access points, pavements and user-friendly routes.

The quantitative and qualitative results obtained to date enable us to assert that it is possible (and indeed necessary) to construct intercommunity initiatives with a view to tackling this social challenge and at the same time encourage sci¬entific and solidarity vocations among young people.

The project was raised from the beginning as a shared research project- action but also of citizen science. In this way, researchers served offering technical-educational-so¬cial support and at the same time they learned with others to improve the tools and procedures initially designed.

There is thus no single core player: the central role is played by various agents who network and collaborate with one another, “empowering citizens and gen¬erating new social relationships and new forms of cooperation”. The project has been gradually adjusted to factor in the contributions of participants from the community, each with their own settings, knowledge and experience.

TESTIMONIES

“I never used to think much about there being lots of barriers to moving around in Portugalete. This project has made me realise that this is something we need to change, because everyone has the right to go into any block of flats or shop”. (Year 4 Secondary Education pupil at the Santa María School).

“In this project, the students are assisted by researchers in engineering, law and education, their own councilors, technicians, teachers, and even people from external entities and disability-related entities, and what you can see is that walking all together, doing the I work all together, we can achieve the construction of a shared social meaning”. (Angela García, Researcher in training at INNOVA and Zerbikas Fundazioa).

“It is an opportunity to bring students closer to reality, bring them into the streets, work in an interdisciplinary way in all areas” (Esti Sánchez. Teacher-Coordinator of the project in Santa Maria Ikastetexea school).

FURTHER INFORMATION

Base document: Aitziber Mugarra Elorriaga (coord.) (2018) Ciudades amigables para todas las personas: Aprendizaje y Servicio Solidario para proyectos innovadores e inclusivos [Friendly cities for all: Service-Learning for innovative and inclusive projects].

Clic here to view the document

An ever-expanding
global network

UNISERVITATE is a global and networked programme that is established through a process of permanent development and the integration of new actors and institutions from a series of regional hubs strategically distributed around the world.