Anybody listening to older people?

Rockdale street sceneSome local councils are engaging with their older residents, but not enough. Andrew Heaton writes a timely article in Sourceable about the slowness of urban designers to recognise the longevity revolution is happening now. However, the City of Sydney got older volunteers to take to the streets with iPads to audit the existing environment before redevelopment occurred. The iPad app developed by UNSW is designed to upload information directly to a database that can then map the issues. The result was wider footpaths, new lighting, seating, more greenery and better pedestrian access. (See also COTA NSW concise guide for the five key elements: footpaths, seating, lighting, wayfinding and toilets.)

In the article, Kathryn Greiner, chair of the NSW Ministerial Committee on Ageing, challenges the design professions to keep up to date with demographic changes. She claims that the longevity revolution is getting very little traction from the design community.

The article, Are we genuinely engaging senior Australians in urban design, provides more information about the iPad app and Kathryn Greiner’s views.

Photo: A view of a street mall in Rockdale. While it looks very age friendly, accessible, and very pleasant, the patterning in the footpath can be confusing for someone with cognitive difficulties or low vision as they run across the line of travel. The trees are great in summer, but some older people worry about wet autumn leaves on footpaths – they can be very slippery. Editor.