New global platform to help cities become sustainable and smart

Wednesday, 17 February 2016 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}



While we often hear about smart, sustainable cities, adding smartness to an existing urban environment or developing a Smart City from scratch is a mammoth undertaking.

To help city stakeholders worldwide make their cities smarter, the first World Smart City online community was launched on 18 January. This new community aims to identify top pain points that are holding city development back.

Given that by 2050, an estimated 66 % of the world’s population will live in urban areas, supplying these populations with basic resources like safe food, clean water and sufficient energy, while ensuring overall economic, social and environmental sustainability, will be a major challenge. Cities need to substantially increase the efficiency in which they operate and use their resources.

Major efficiency improvements could be achieved by horizontally interconnecting individual systems such as energy, water, sanitation and waste management, transportation, security, environmental monitoring or weather intelligence.

However, many of the systems used today in cities originate from different suppliers and they are maintained by various agencies, sometimes working in isolation. To connect them both physically and virtually, standardized interfaces need to be put in place.

The community launch is part of the lead up to the first World Smart City Forum, which is organized by the IEC, in partnership with ISO and ITU. The Forum will be held in Singapore on 13 July, co-located with the World Cities Summit and Singapore International Water Week.

Frans Vreeswijk, IEC General Secretary and CEO, said: “Cities are giant systems with countless subsystems. All of them depend on electricity and hardware to move people and things, collect data and exchange information. Already now, IEC work impacts all of them. More than ever before, many different organisations will need to collaborate to help make cities smarter; technology integration is a special challenge that requires partnerships and alliances. That’s what the online community and Forum is trying to achieve.”

Kevin McKinley, Acting ISO Secretary-General, said: “Smart cities make sense: they waste less, offer better quality of life and ensure a brighter future for the next generation. But cities face many challenges in their quest to improve. ISO standards help cities measure and improve their performance, for example with standards for city indicators, sustainable communities and city infrastructures. These standards provide best practices and harmonised solutions that can be used everywhere, and allow city planners and decision makers to benefit from global expertise.”

Chaesub Lee, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau said: “The information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure of a Smart City should ensure openness and interoperability, achieved by coordinated adherence to common standards. Smart cities will employ an abundance of technologies in the family of the Internet of Things (IoT) and standards will assist the harmonized implementation of IoT data and applications, contributing to effective horizontal integration of a city’s subsystems. ITU collaboration with city leaders builds on cities’ requirements to develop standards that leverage IoT technologies to address urban development challenges.”

This online community will gather relevant city stakeholders globally and engage them in value-add discussions and high-level networking. This will help to crystalise some pain points of Smart City development in areas such as mobility, water, energy, cyber security and privacy. The community discussions aim to both break down barriers and encourage communication to support faster Smart City development activities, as well as shape the final program of the World Smart City Forum in Singapore. In addition to high-level VIPs, the community aims to attract professionals such as city planners, architects, consultants, utilities, transport planners, safety/security/data specialists, standardization specialists, and industry (solution providers).