Moving cities to greater smartness

First World Smart City Forum: more than half a million city stakeholders reached

By Gabriela Ehrlich

The first World Smart City Forum was held on 13 July 2016, co-located with the World Cities Summit in the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Singapore. More than 300 participants joined the live event and listened to world experts who addressed, discussed and accepted live questions from audiences in the room and online. The event was simultaneously live-streamed to close to 1 000 online participants and IEC tweets reached well over half a million city stakeholders. The online community has more than 1 000 active members.

Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Singapore The World Smart City Forum took place on 13 July 2016 at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Singapore

Four pain points hold back Smart City development 

During the Forum, discussions shaped around four pain points that are currently holding back Smart City development. Those include energy, water, cybersecurity/privacy as well as mobility.


Cities are giant systems with countless subsystems which require electricity for almost everything. Electricity fuels cars, subways and trains. It cools, heats and lights homes and businesses. It pumps water and processes food. It energizes telecommunications, web servers and data centres. Modern city management as well as efficient urban infrastructure would be impossible without a reliable electricity access and the ability to horizontally interconnect individual city systems and all the hardware that collects and shares data. In short: no electricity = no Smart City. The discussion can be viewed here.


Going forward, cities need to be water resilient and make responsible use of resources. Appropriate water management will not only preserve and improve the environment; it also increases social welfare and the well-being of citizens. A smart, integrated set of technologies, solutions and systems can enable continuous monitoring, diagnosis and prioritization as well as facilitate maintenance and the management of issues. Among other things, the expert panel highlighted how data can help optimize all aspects of water production, distribution and treatment allowing cities to reach those objectives. The discussion can be viewed here.

Cybersecurity and privacy

Cities increasingly depend on information and communications technology (ICT). With it the cybersecurity threat landscape for cities is evolving, from breaches of city data to more malicious assaults on urban infrastructure. The potential impact of cybersecurity attacks is of a magnitude that rivals major natural disasters. The panel discussed latest policies and essential governance priorities every mayor and city administrator needs to know to be confident their city is positioned for vibrant growth. The discussion can be viewed here.


Cities need to successfully re-engineer the way goods and people move into and out of the city. The panel discussed successes and failures as well as emerging solutions for transportation and mobility in cities. The discussion can be viewed here.

Many standards from many organizations

Policies, regulation, citizen involvement and standards are all key components needed to build a viable Smart City. While all are important, in a path towards smarter cities, standardization will play a key role in ensuring consistent outcomes. Standards are relevant in the physical world, where they allow for the interconnection of hardware and technologies, but also in the virtual space where they facilitate data collection/sharing as well as city operation.

They can considerably facilitate the development of tailor-made solutions that are adapted to the particular circumstances of a given city. Standards are essential enablers that assure an expected performance level and compatibility between technologies. They embody strong technical and process expertise, facilitate the replication of outcomes and propose common metrics that permit the comparative analysis and benchmarking of solutions.

Cities are complex, multi-dimensional systems of systems. No single standards organization will be able to provide everything cities need. Here, as elsewhere, broad collaboration is required.

Smart City standardization: first global meeting of major standards organizations

On 14 July 2016, in the wake of the World Smart City Forum, representatives of IEC, ISO, ITU, IEEE, CEN, CENELEC and ETSI gathered for a meeting initiated by the IEC. More than 70 participants from national standards organizations also joined the meeting as observers. This was the first time these different standards organizations from around the world met to examine how to work together for the greater good of cities and citizens.

No single organization can provide all the standards

The vision of the IEC was to give an impulse that helps accelerate and better align Smart City standardization work.  The fact is: no single organization can provide all the standards that are needed. Greater cooperation among standards organizations offers the prospect of more efficient, inclusive standards development for cities. The IEC vision is that sometimes one organization will lead an effort and at other times it will share its expertise while another one leads.

Participants of these standards organizations expressed their commitment to uphold principles of mutual respect, transparency, openness and sharing of new work information. Discussions looked at gaps; where standards are needed but work is not yet advanced; overlaps, where different organizations may be active; and, how the standards world can collaborate to better serve the needs of cities and citizens.

Over the coming months the organizations develop a viable framework for cooperation in order to optimize outcomes and reduce duplication, wasted time and expense. A follow-up meeting organized by ISO is planned for 2017.

smart cities The World Smart City Forum took place on 13 July 2016...
Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Singapore the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Singapore
Collaboration Greater cooperation among standards organizations offers the prospect of more efficient, inclusive standards development for cities