Projections from the United Nations state that by 2050 two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. As our metropolises continue to become smarter through technical innovation, we must make sure that the UK becomes a leader in accessibility, and prioritise the installation of smart lifts.
There are over 11 million disabled people in the UK and over 50 per cent of those have mobility impairment. While London is considered to be one of the most wheelchair accessible cities in Europe, the UK as a whole is still lagging behind. According to recent figures 40 per cent of restaurants and 20 per cent of High Street shops are still not able to provide full access for wheelchair users.
For the benefit of aging communities and those living with disabilities, lifts are becoming a truly indispensable transport for our cities. It is now more important than ever to ensure we are prepared to provide the 5 million plus people who struggle with mobility, the exact same experience our cities provide to those who are able-bodied.
Accessibility is a topical issue at the moment and one which must not be forgotten when future planning. This year alone, Transport for London (TfL) has heavily invested in making the London underground step free, installing lifts in a number of tube stations across the city. Festivals, concert venues and sports stadiums have also turned their attention to the issue, trying to improve facilities wherever possible.
Advances in technology have helped cities across the UK become smarter and more efficient, yet there is still tremendous opportunity to use these advancements to benefit those with disabilities. Cities should be accessible for all, and in the past we’ve seen dual-use lifts shared between buildings to save space and ensure everyone has access.
We also must not forget those who are hearing and visually impaired. Lifts must be clear to see, announce themselves and be able to be externally controlled – should a problem arise.
The lift industry as a whole knows that to fit into the cities of the future we must continue to innovate. I’m very confident that our lifts will very soon be responding to control from mobile devices, with users able to pre-call chosen floors using their mobile phones, but I believe that this is just the beginning, and with the continued advancements in technology who knows what the future holds?
As we continue to build upwards lifts are fast-becoming an indispensable transport. But to be truly indispensable they need to be accessible to all, readily available in buildings right now and those working within this sector need to continue to innovate.
Gary Sullivan is the sales and marketing director for Cibes Lift UK. After having worked within the construction industry for over 25 years, Gary took up the role in 2016 when the company entered the UK market; acquiring the company he had previously worked for to become Cibes Lift UK. The company is passionate about accessibility and providing long-lasting solutions. It works with garages, cafes and bars, retail outlets, leisure facilities, universities, schools and sports stadiums. www.cibeslift.co.uk
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