Enabling sustainable and smart cities for improved quality of life

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IEC, ISO and ITU host international forum to tackle pain points that limit Smart Cities’ development



Now more than ever, many different organizations and entities need to collaborate to help make cities smarter... and this is where IEC, ISO and ITU have a global leadership role.

Smart Cities promise improved quality of life for the world’s estimated 3.9 billion urban dwellers(1), while at the same time allowing better, more efficient use of resources and improved security. However many barriers limit Smart City development.

Key pain points that inhibit Smart Cities have been under the spotlight at the first World Smart City Forum, held in Singapore on 13 July 2016.

The Forum was organized by the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), in partnership with ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and ITU (International Telecommunication Union).
These three organizations publish International Standards that provide technical tools to enable the integration of city services and technologies.

The World Smart City Forum recognized that cities battle with pain points like the sustainable supply of energy or water, or the elimination of the gridlock and related pollution caused by congested transport networks. City leaders and international experts shared insights into how major efficiency gains can be made by horizontally interconnecting individual systems such as energy, water, sanitation and waste management, transportation, and security.

However, as the Forum heard, on the operational level many of the systems used in today’s cities are from different suppliers and maintained by different agencies who sometimes work in isolation. To connect them both physically and virtually, standardized interfaces need to be put in place, and this is where IEC, ISO and ITU have a global leadership role.

Now more than ever before, many different organizations and entities need to collaborate to help make cities smarter. Meeting the challenges of technology integration will demand broad cooperation via a systems approach. For city planners, utilities and service providers, International Standards are essential enablers, assuring an expected performance level and compatibility between technologies.

Says Frans Vreeswijk, IEC General Secretary and CEO: “Energy is the golden thread that allows cities and economies to prosper. We know that almost 70% of all energy produced globally is consumed by cities and that by 2050, an estimated 66% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. City authorities will face unprecedented challenges of satisfying their citizens’ basic needs while increasing their sustainability. IEC is committed to helping cities reach their Smart City objectives faster, more efficiently and with better outcomes. Moreover we welcome active, ongoing participation in our Smart City work.”

On 15 July the IEC System Committee (SyC) on Smart Cities will be launched, with representatives from more than 20 countries convening in Singapore. This new Systems Committee will foster the development of International Standards in the field of electrotechnology to help with the integration, interoperability and effectiveness of city systems.

Says Kevin McKinley, Acting ISO Secretary-General: "International Standards are the foundation for building smarter, more sustainable urban environments. They help systems and products work together, and spread new ideas, technology and efficiency. For example, ISO's work on city indicators helps cities identify the areas they need to improve on, and the recently published standard on sustainable development in communities will help communities themselves own and drive their future. In addition, ISO has many standards on water, transportation, construction and many other sectors will help cities address the diverse challenges they face."

Says Chaesub Lee, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau: “The information and communication technology (ICT) sector has gained a diverse range of new stakeholders in recent years, and we see ample evidence of this in the Smart City arena. The World Smart City Forum in Singapore offered valuable input to ITU’s standardization work, contributing to our ongoing efforts to ensure that ICT standardization speaks to the needs of the many public and private-sector actors deploying ICTs as enabling technologies to meet smart-city objectives.”

Says Tan Kok Yam, Head of the Smart Nation Programme Office, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore: “Collaboration is key in a complex world where digital technology offers so much potential, and at the same time, comes with many challenges. Governments and businesses need to work closely to address the challenges of sustainability, transport, housing and healthcare, among others. Standards that enable inter-operability, and increase mutual trust, and strengthen in systems resilience and cybersecurity are critical, as the key enablers to the open creative environment that we seek.     

About the World Smart City Forum, 13 July 2016, Singapore
The World Smart City Forum was held on Wednesday, 13 July 2016 at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, co-located with the World Cities Summit and Singapore International Water Week.

More than 400 city planners, city leaders, architects, utilities, transport planners, safety/security/data specialists, standardization specialists and industry representatives joined the event. The Forum was supported by many important city organizations and international, regional and national standards bodies.

World experts addressed key pain points that hinder Smart City development during World Smart City Forum and live-stream in Singapore on 13 July 2016. Programme available here.


1.    United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2015). World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision, (ST/ESA/SER.A/366). https://esa.un.org/unpd/wup/Publications/Files/WUP2014-Report.pdf

Further Information:

Gabriela Ehrlich
Global media relations
IEC http://www.iec.ch
Mob: +41 79 600 56 72
Skype: gabriela.ehrlich
Email: geh(at)iec.ch

Katie Bird,
Head, Communication
ISO, International Organization for Standardization http://www.iso.org
Phone: +41 22 749 0431
Email: bird(at)iso.org

Frederic Werner
Senior Communications Officer
ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau http://www.itu.int
Tel: +41 22 730 5572
Mob: +41 79 249 4807
Email: frederic.werner(at)itu.int

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