Technology and new services can help make our communities more livable for people of any age – including innovations like ride-sharing businesses that offer not only new mobility options for older people but also a way to supplement incomes. That's what aging experts shared recently with 80 Sarasota residents at a recent roundtable.
Currently available in more than 66 countries and 507 cities worldwide, Uber is an U.S-based multinational company that specializes in providing unique transportation services through their mobile app. Working with Uber Florida and Age-Friendly Sarasota, the roundtable aimed to educate the public on the many benefits that new technology and new services are bringing to age-friendly communities across the nation.
“Today, most of us are carrying a computer in our pocket that has been estimated to be more than 80 million times faster than the computers on board the Apollo spacecraft,” said Jeff Johnson, AARP Florida State Director. With cellphones, people have had access to a wide variety of services and applications at their fingertips that can assist their living. Uber is one of those applications that is utilizing mobile accessibility in order to create innovative transportation services for all age groups.
“According to the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA), it’s estimated that 26 million older Americans depend on others for mobility,” said Stephanie Smith, Public Policy Director for Uber Florida. Recent surveys and focus groups show that mobility is a concern for some older people in Sarasota, where more than 46 percent of households consist of individuals 65 years-plus while nearly 20 percent of households include individuals under 18.
“Sarasota County and other communities like it need diverse transportation options that address many different needs while into consideration a varied age population,” said Dr. Kathy Black, a professor at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee as well as an AARP volunteer. Working with the Patterson Foundation, Black is helping to lead a countywide initiative to make the community more livable for people of all ages. At the urging of Black and other community leaders, in 2015 Sarasota County joined the global Age Friendly Community Network, led in the United States by AARP. It was the first community in Florida to join the network.
The Patterson Foundation initiative seeks to engage government, business, nonprofits, media and people to build a community for all ages that supports active, healthy and engaged living across key areas of life. AARP also is working with the cities of Tallahassee, Winter Haven, St. Petersburg, Hallandale Beach, the Town of Cutler Bay and the Village of Pinecrest in Florida on livability initiatives through the Age Friendly Communities Network. Cities, counties and regions that join the network receive technical assistance and support, and collaborate with one another to identify promising practices and ideas to make their communities better places to live at any age. By 2019, AARP Florida plans to engage 40 communities in the Age Friendly Community Network.
To learn more about the work that AARP Florida is doing with Age-Friendly Sarasota, please click here.