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The Quick Guide to Smart City 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.

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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 which 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.

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