Over the past year the pandemic has highlighted many inequities that exist within society, one of which is the direct correlation between socio-economic status and access to services, support and experiences. In response, the CityPass, a barrier-free membership system, has been designed to establish a more inclusive and equitable community at a conceptual, digital and physical level in Calgary, Alberta. It aims to attract all Calgarians, leveraging a large pool of membership, in order to encourage interaction and reduce the socio-economic barriers that limit access to services, information and civic participation, especially for unhoused community members or those at a lower-economic standing.
The system is an expandable network of digital, physical and social infrastructures with three core components, the CityPass, CityStand, and CityTable that together work to create localized community hubs (CityHubs). These easily accessible hubs are scattered across the city, including on main streets where many barriers to participation exist, to increase access to services and information and enable participation.
The CityPass is a card, inspired by the library card, that at a conceptual level works to symbolize belonging to the community and at a digital level serves as a zero cost, barrier-free mode of access to services, amenities and experiences that enhance one's ability to participate in civic life. By tapping the card, users can access the CityStand and CityTable and transfer in-kind credits and contact information, especially important for those without a personal mobile phone.
The CityStand is a 4 sided multi-interface kiosk with 3 touchscreen panels that provide localized news, digital voice assistant and telecommunication capabilities, free WiFi and a vending machine with low-cost single item goods that are available at a ‘pay what you can’ scale using CityPass credits. This allows users to subsidize a good for someone else, pay for the item at cost, or obtain the good for free, exemplifying the pay it forward ethos in Calgary.
Lastly, the CityTable, is a picnic bench providing safe barrier-free space to connect and participate in community activities. Oftentime connecting requires patronizing a place in order to have a space to sit, especially in Calgary winters, when sitting outside can be a challenge. To meet these needs the tables provide free WiFi, charging capabilities, and heaters.
Overall, the system connects community members that are often excluded, to the city, its services and experiences, and to other Calgarians, fostering a more inclusive Calgary.