According to the 2014 United Nations report World Urbanization Prospects, 54 per cent of the world’s population resides in urban areas, a number that is expected to grow to 66 per cent by 2050. Rapidly growing population is proving challenging for city leaders who are responsible for ensuring both the safety of their citizens and the infrastructure of their cities. And yet, even though large cities share similar struggles, until recently they had no mechanism to efficiently compare data or share knowledge on the performance of city services.
A landmark ISO standard —ISO 37120, Sustainable development of communities – indicators for city services and quality of life—will now help. It outlines key measurements for evaluating a city's service delivery and quality of life, and helps them assess performance, measure progress, and draw comparative lessons from other cities locally and globally.
The standard was developed by a working group of the ISO technical committee that is devoted to sustainable development in communities. The working group was led by Patricia McCarney, a Canadian expert on city data who has been instrumental in developing a World Council on City Data (WCCD) and an ISO standard, placing Canada as the global lead on urban metrics.
The WCCD is based in Toronto and was launched as the result of seven years of collecting globally standardized data for cities by the University of Toronto’s Global City Indicators Facility (GCIF), a network of 255 cities across 82 countries. WCCD is leading the global implementation of ISO 37120 and performing certification against the standard after having developed the certification protocol.
To date, 21 cities have achieved certification by WCCD against ISO 37120, including Toronto and Vaughan in Ontario, Canada. One of WCCD’s roles is to build an international platform for globally comparable and standardized data for participating cities from around the world. It has accomplished this by launching an Open City Data Portal that provides public access to the collected data, fostering a culture of knowledge and direct interaction. It also allows users to compare data on up to five cities at a time.
Another 80 cities worldwide have expressed interest in ISO 37120 certification and will be added to the Open City Data Portal following certification. In addition, two new ISO standards are being developed by the ISO/TC 268 City Indicators Working Group on indicators for smart and resilient cities, leveraging information on technology and sustainability to help cities improve the quality of life for their citizens.
For more information about ISO 37120, visit the ISO website.