Smartcity standards

The Quick Guide to Smart City Standards

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Smartcity standards

There’s a lot of buzz around the smart city concept at the moment, but the standards that regulate how smart cities function are often less often discussed.

Maybe this is because standards are often not perceived as the most exciting topic of conversation: however, in truth they are absolutely essential to ensuring that cities the world over have access to a common framework shaping what the smart city really is, and offering them a way of being officially categorized as a smart city after they’ve put significant resources into making their city smarter.

Below we will examine some of the key smart city standards in order to help you understand better how the smart city concept – so often seen as vague – is actually fairly well regimented, and how you can utilize these standards to make your city smarter to improve quality of life for all.

The main International Smart City Standards organizations are:

  • ISO: International Organization for Standardization. The main global body that national standards bodies work with and with which many of us are familiar with via “ISO certified”
  • CEN/CENELEC/ETSI: In Europe, standards are developed and agreed by the three officially recognized European Standardization Organisations: the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).
  • ITU: ITU is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs)
  • IEC: Founded in 1906, the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) is the world’s leading organization for the preparation and publication of International Standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies. These are known collectively as “electrotechnology”.

Related Standards

While not directly related to smart cities, the following technical standards play a part because they focus on specific elements of the smart city:

  • General – IEEE has a document that lists the standards that they consider as related to Smart Cities – available here.
  • Security
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a preliminary discussion draft of its Framework for Cyber-Physical Systems. The draft has an ambitious goal: to create an integrated framework of standards that will form the blueprint for the creation of a massive interoperable network of cyber-physical systems (CPS), also known as the “Internet of Things.” In 2014, NIST established the cyber-physical systems public working group(CPS PWG)—an open public forum.

One particularly useful framework has been produced by the UK’s standards body, the British Standards Institute (BSI), as part of a (free) report they’ve compiled on Smart Cities (PD 8100 Smart city overview).

This framework categorizes standards into 3 main levels: Strategic, Process and Technical.

  • Level 1: Strategic. Standards that provide guidance to city leadership and other bodies on the “process of developing a clear and effective overall smart city strategy”. They include guidance in identifying priorities, how to develop a roadmap for implementation and how to effectively monitor and evaluate progress along the roadmap.
  • Level 2: Process. Standards focused on procuring and managing smart city projects, and in particular those that cross both organizations and sectors. These essentially offer best practices and associated guidelines.
  • Level 3: Technical. Standards that cover the myriad technical specifications that are needed to actually implement smart city products and services so that they meet the overall objectives.

The BSI standards for smart cities are worth looking at – although they are national standards, the UK seems to have developed a comprehensive set of smart city activities quite early and their standards appear to be feeding into the ongoing work of international organizations:

A more preliminary take on smart city standards has been developed by the US National Institute of Standards (NIST) and can be found here – this is more of a “call to action” than actual NIST endorsed standards.

The European Union lists these ten standards for smart cities:
ISO/TS 37151:2015: 2015 – Smart community infrastructures – Principles and requirements for performance metrics.
UNE 178301:2015: 2015 – Smart cities – Open Data.
ISO 37120:2014: 2014 – Sustainable development of communities – Indicators for city services and quality of life.
ISO/DIS 37101: Sustainable development of communities – Management systems – Requirements with guidance for resilience and smartness.
ISO/DTR 37121: Inventory and review of existing indicators on sustainable development and resilience in cities.
ISO/NP 37122: Sustainable development in communities – Indicators for smart cities.
ISO/WD 37120: Sustainable development of communities – Indicators for city services and quality of life.
PNE 178106: Smart cities – Infrastructures – Universal accessibility.
PNE 178306: Accessible mobility in smart cities.
PNE 178501: Management system of smart tourist destinations – Requirements.

The Smart Cities Council for Australia and New Zealand have their own Smart Cities Standards Best Practice Guide, which mostly covers standards in the following areas: Building Information Modelling; Internet of Things; Sustainable communities and smart cities frameworks and process standards.

In the Asia-Pacific region, most city governments are looking to try andfulfilll the smart city standards already established by ISO, ITU and other international standards bodies and become “certified”. Some individual countries have standards associations who have established their own frameworks – for example, the Bureau of Indian Standards has developed a Smart Cities Indicators framework document, and NASSCOM ((Indian) National Association of Software and Services Companies) has partnered with Accenture to prepare a report called ‘Integrated ICT and Geospatial Technologies Framework for 100 Smart Cities Mission’.

Each country and each continent has a particular view of what the smart city is, and how it should be regulated through standardization.

However, some countries have more comprehensive standards than others – the UK, in particular, is a good example of a country leading the way when it comes to smart city standards, as we see with the BSI report on smart cities. These standards are not necessarily always adhered to by cities, but they are a useful guide – especially for cities that have not yet forayed into the smart cities zone and are looking for some help on which areas they should be making “smarter” first.

Smart city standards will, of course, continue to evolve according to changing geopolitical contexts and the ever-evolving concept of the smart city itself, which recently has begun to move towards the notion of “smart communities” and “smart living”. Cities should keep on top of these evolutions: not only will it help them to build their reputation and world standing if they adhere to national and international standards, but the changing nature of these standards will guide cities in their smart city planning and strategy, enabling them to place themselves at the forefront of smart city innovation in the future.

Smart cities technology

The 6 Core Smart City Technologies

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The technologies making up the smart city are often less interesting than their outcomes. However, it is still important that we all know what exactly is allowing us to access wifi for our smartphones in any part of the city, or how traffic congestion is being reduced through technology. This helps both city officials and citizens to know if the right, or most up-to-date, technologies are being deployed in their city, and how their city can improve on their technologies to become even smarter in the future. Understanding these technologies can be difficult, however, as the Smart City technological ecosystem is a complex one, made up of many different areas and stakeholders. Most of the major stakeholders operate across several areas, providing solutions that complement (and sometimes overlap) each other and those of other organizations – big and small.

In order to navigate this overlapping map of different technologies, we have created a simple guide to help you understand the technological foundations of any smart city:

1) Networking and communications

This involves the underlying communications infrastructure that enables smart cities to connect other infrastructure, devices and people, to gather data, and to deliver services to a myriad of endpoints. Low Power WAN technologies, 3/4G evolution, and 5G are examples of networking and communications technologies.

2) Cyber-Physical Systems and IoT

This involves the connection and virtual representation of physical devices to the internet. It is the monitoring of physical infrastructure which is now being connected using open standard protocols (IP, HTTP, etc.) and made accessible through web technologies such as REST. One good example is energy management through, for instance, smart meters and micro-grid technologies. These systems allow private-sector companies, for example automakers, to enter the realm of public services – in this case through gathering data on traffic etc. Citizens can also be empowered to deploy their own low-cost sensors individually or as part of a project to measure, for instance, air-pollution in their local area. This growth in “urban sensing” is underpinned by the communications networks (wired and wireless). IoT is revolutionizing how we can sense and control our surrounding environment, but there are also several trends and issues in the Smart Cities field driving the way we can leverage IoT – smart cities and IoT, therefore, have a symbiotic relationship.

3) Cloud and Edge Computing

Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service: it offers organizations such as cities ways to reduce costs and increase efficiency. Privacy and security concerns have meant that many public authorities have been reluctant to use public cloud services for core services, but many cities have experimented with private cloud services and a public/private hybrid infrastructure. Driving city adoption of the cloud is a massive increase in the data that is being generated, captured and analyzed by cities as they start to deploy and exploit IoT technologies. One example of the use of cloud infrastructure in cities is Intelligent Transportation – for instance, Taiwan has exploited cloud computing to handle the high data volume of its Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). Edge (or fog) computing is a term used to describe the deployment and use of processing within and at the edge of the network.

Edge computing offers cities ways to manage and monitor distributed infrastructure – ITS, for example, or energy efficiency systems in buildings – where processing is better handled close to infrastructure in order to improve performance and immediacy of data-sharing and action.

4) Big Data and Data Analytics

Trends such as IoT, Open Data, etc. mean that cities are increasingly collecting and making available significant amounts of data. This data can be classed as Big Data because it is high volume, often real-time and extremely varying in its sources, formats and characteristics. The evolving technology that captures, manages and analyses this Big Data leverages technology trends such as cloud computing. Coupled with other technologies such as Hadoop/HDFS, Spark, Hive and a plethora of proprietary tools, cities can now harness big data and analytical tools to improve their city operations.

5) Open Data

In the context of Smart Cities, this refers to public policy that requires or encourages public agencies and private companies to release data sets and make them freely accessible. This data can cover a number of areas: from energy-usage, to crime statistics, to city service levels, to infrastructure data etc. Open Data leverages a number of the technologies already mentioned, like Cloud Computing, IoT, and others. It is focused around transparency but it also makes a lot of information available to the public/third parties, allowing SMEs, start-ups and even individual citizens to, for example, create their own mobile applications to improve city services/people’s lives. A good example of open-data usage in a smart city is Palo Alto’s open-data portal.

6) Citizen Engagement

This is not a “technology” but is an important aspect of many of the smart city technology trends – particularly open-data, IoT and big data. It is a movement towards capitalizing on technology as a tool for greater engagement with citizens – it is closely related to leveraging the “collective intelligence” of cities and communities in order to understand better what citizens need in their daily lives. It aims to make policy more “co-creative” and “participative” and is often implemented through mobile applications or open online forums that allow citizens to share information and communicate directly with city governments. WazeCtzen, city hackathons or datathons involving or run by citizens such as Barcelona Air Quality Datathon, crowdsourcing city data, social media campaigns, co-designing and user-centric designed processes to engage citizens in the ideation, design and delivery of new services – like The Bristol Approach – are all examples of citizen engagement methods for smart cities.

Although at the moment, smart city technologies are deployed in a web of different companies and solutions, most organizations are vying to be the provider for smart cities.

Those companies that are able to do so are working towards being able to provide end-to-end solutions to city technology needs – for example end-to-end IoT solutions that cover all traffic and parking monitoring.

However, most players currently lack the scale, money or professional networks to achieve this, resulting in a situation where smart city technology providers tend to work in collaboration with partners from other technology segments. This collaborative approach may be better for cities in the long-run, meaning that no company has a monopoly on smart city technologies and allowing city councils to have greater choice over which technology vendors they opt for. It will also probably benefit citizens – allowing them to engage in “citizen sensing” and become bottom-up stakeholders in, and technological creators of, their own cities.

3 drivers to urban mobility management

The 3 Key Drivers Of Urban Mobility Management

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3 drivers to urban mobility management

By 2030, nearly 5 billion (61%) of the world’s 8.1 billion people will live in cities. To manage this rising tide, cities will need to manage congestion and inner-city traffic more efficiently. They also need to respond to unexpected situations faster than ever before. Our ability to extract meaningful insights from data will transform urban mobility entirely. But in order to get there, we need to build tools that enable real-time decision making.

Historically, city services like traffic and first responders have been reactive to disruptive events, without the means to plan proactively and foresee unexpected situations. Due to rising complexity in urban operations, cities must evolve from mere data collection and visualization to decision-making support tools that recommend actions and show potential outcomes before critical events occur and operational decisions are made.

Here are three key drivers behind the adoption of new ways of managing mobility. (In order of their importance to city officials).


Safety & Security

New geopolitical realities pose strong challenges regarding societal protection, stability, and well-being. This has not gone unnoticed: leaders are understanding that managing the mobility of individuals and identifying anomalous mobility patterns can also be a powerful tool in improving overall safety and security.

Indeed, they can’t afford to risk citizen safety by implementing an imperfect solution. Therefore, urban leaders are also increasingly seeking solutions that facilitate citizen engagement, such the ability to report real-time incidents or to give feedback.

Important information already exists within traffic management systems like traffic cameras, Bluetooth and wifi trackers, but siloed data centers offer limited visibility over such data, and solutions which provide more insights are necessary. You can’t make life-impacting decisions if you can’t see the full picture.

Urban Mobility

Beyond safety concerns lies an emphasis on enhancements to city mobility. Mobility and urban parking management are crucial to managing economic development and the lifeblood of our cities: the everyday transport systems that bring people to work and to socialize, the vehicles that deliver essential goods like food, and those that carry away waste.

New mobility solutions and smart parking innovation will be critical for keeping our urban centers functioning.

City managers face the challenge of dealing with increased density, more interactions, higher demand for transport and potential security threats within the same budgets.

There is a correlation between the importance of mobility solutions and development levels for particular cities. Emerging markets feature a rapidly growing middle class, increasing the likelihood of congestion. More people can afford cars, placing unsustainable strain upon outdated infrastructure and parking capacity.

This issue is less pronounced in more developed cities, where the gap between safety concerns and improved mobility demands has widened.

Economic Impact

Close behind is the impact of new urban mobility solutions on city finances and budgets. Reducing costs and creating more value with fewer resources is paramount. Managing operational efficiency is critical because many modern cities are far more accountable for budgeting than ever before. The rise of the smart city is in part due to city leaders seeking new solutions for this issue.

This last driver resonates strongly since city officials are ultimately accountable to their citizens. However, a mayor’s economizing won’t necessarily ensure re-election. What will get them elected is their improvements to the everyday quality of life for citizens.