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UN urges smart transition

Key performance indicators will measure the smartness and sustainability of cities in line with the Sustainable Development Goals

The UN sees ICT as a catalyst for the transition to sustainable and smart cities
The UN sees ICT as a catalyst for the transition to sustainable and smart cities

The United Nations (UN) has launched a global campaign focusing on the transition to smart, sustainable cities. It advocates that public policy promotes the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) as a catalyst for such change.

The initiative, the United for Smart Sustainable Cities (U4SSC), is being led by the International Telecommunication Union and the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE). It will assist the response to Goal 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” and is open to all UN agencies, municipalities, industry, academia and other relevant stakeholders. It will focus on the integration of ICTs in urban operations and build on existing international standards and key performance indicators.

“ICTs have become central to innovation in almost every sphere of social and economic activity, making collaboration essential in maximising the contribution of ICTs to sustainable development,” said ITU secretary-general Houlin Zhao.

ECE executive secretary Christian Friis Bach commented: “We live in a connected world and we see new fascinating markets and products where physical products and services and digital technologies merge and move together.


"The digital revolution can help us create intelligent transport, smart energy systems, resource efficiency and transparent and open societies. It can help us create sustainable development. However, to achieve this we need trust and predictability, and we need common and neutral standards that can work across borders and technologies.”

The U4SSC was launched at the ITU-ECE Forum on ‘Shaping smarter and more sustainable cities: striving for sustainable development goals’, held in Rome.

ITU and ECE presented a set of key performance indicators that they have developed to measure the “smartness” and “sustainability” of cities, in line with the SDGs.

Dubai, Singapore, Manizales, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Valencia, Rimini and other selected cities have already agreed to trial these key performance indicators.

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