ITU unveils First World Smart City online community

ITU has today launched the first World Smart City online community to assist city stakeholders in their efforts to develop Smart Sustainable Cities. The new community aims to identify the top ‘pain points’ presenting challenges to city development will gather relevant city stakeholders globally and engage them in value-add discussions and high-level networking.

This forum according to ITU will help to crystalize some pain points of Smart City development in areas such as mobility, water, energy, cybersecurity and privacy

“The development of Smart Sustainable Cities has become a key policy point to administrations around the world as well as to UN organizations,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “The recognition of the potential of smart cities comes in parallel with recognition that building smartness into an existing city, or developing a smart city from the ground up, is a complex undertaking, calling for improved cooperation and more integrated decision-making by a variety of city stakeholders and global standards bodies, such as ITU, IEC and ISO.”

By year 2050, an estimated 66 per cent of the world’s population will live in urban areas. City leaders however face a major challenge in the need to supply these populations with basic resources, such as safe food, clean water and sufficient energy, while ensuring overall economic, social and environmental sustainability. Cities across the world need to achieve substantial improvements in the efficiency with which they operate and use their resources.

ITU says 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. A key challenge to this horizontal integration lies in the fact that many of today’s city systems originate from different suppliers and are maintained by various agencies, sometimes working in isolation. The interconnection of these systems, both physically and virtually, will demand standardized interfaces.

“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 organizations 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.” Frans Vreeswijk, IEC General Secretary and CEO said.

Kevin McKinley, Acting ISO Secretary-General added that “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 harmonized solutions that can be used everywhere, and allow city planners and decision-makers to benefit from global expertise.”

“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 the effective horizontal integration of a city’s subsystems. ITU collaboration with city leaders builds on the requirements of cities to develop standards that leverage IoT technologies to address urban-development challenges.” Chaesub Lee, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau.

The community launch is part of the build-up to the first World Smart City Forum, organized by IEC in partnership with ISO and ITU. The World Smart City Forum will be held in Singapore on 13 July 2016, co-located with the World Cities Summit and Singapore International Water Week.

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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I track and report on tech and African startups. Founder and Editor of TechTrends Media. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to

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