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TM Forum launches global Smart Cities Benchmark

The organisation has worked with 500 cities on the project and key smart city organisations around the world

The TM Forum app helps to bring everyone involved in a smart city team together
The TM Forum app helps to bring everyone involved in a smart city team together

The Smart Cities Benchmark is based on the PAS181 smart city framework

The more open a city is, the more access it has to other open cities’ benchmarks

Around 20-60 stakeholders from smart city projects can contribute to the benchmark

Smart city leaders can benchmark their city’s progress with the help of a new free-to-download app, developed by TM Forum, the global member association for digital business. Its primary purpose is to bring all of the stakeholders together in a smart city project and create a vision using global standards and best practice.


The Smart Cities Benchmark is based on the PAS181 smart city framework from BSI, which will be fast-tracked to become the ISO standard for smart cities later this year. It also makes reference to other international standards and is designed to make these standards accessible for people running smart city projects.


Paul Wilson, smart city trusted adviser at TM Forum, explains that the organisation has worked with more than 500 cities on the project as well as major players in the smart city movement around the world such as Hypercat, Open and Agile Cities, Shanghai Academy City Protocol Society, Smart Cities Council and WeGo.


“We expect cities will want to take the benchmark every couple of years,” said Wilson. “We believe the thinking and maturity of approach will develop in the coming few years quite considerably. This is a journey of turning cities into digital platforms, and joining up local digital ecosystems.”


The app uses Linked-In to log-in so peers from one city to another can find each other easily and share information and best practice between cities.


Participants answer 25 questions (100 in total) on the four areas of leadership and governance, stakeholders and citizen focus, developing an integrated approach to ICT and how to make effective use of data.


“We make a unique workspace in the app for each city, as cities register,” explains Wilson, who was previously managing director of Bristol Is Open. “We put that city’s smart city leader in charge and they can delegate to a consultant if needed.”


The first task is to identify ‘evidencers’ who upload evidence of progress of a city into the app. The smart city leader can then invite between 20-60 stakeholders from the city to take the benchmark, which they do by downloading the pre-configured app.


Stakeholders are likely to include universities, emergency services, community organisations, digital start-ups different local government departments and other organisations. “Each city will be different and app accommodates that,” explained Wilson.


The benchmark uses the measures of: ‘importance’, ‘as is capability’ and ‘two-year targets’. Once individuals in the group have completed the exercises by themselves, a workshop is organised by the smart city leader so everyone can see the aggregate results and a visualisation of how much agreement or disagreement there is about the benchmark. “The group discusses and adjusts aggregate scores until an agreement of current status and a two-year plan emerges,” said Wilson.


The city publishes its results within the app either ‘openly’ within a predefined country or group, ‘closed’ or ‘anonymously’. “The more open a city is, the more access it has to other open cities’ benchmarks, and vice versa,” explained Wilson. “So the more open you are, the more you benefit. The smart city leader can see their own and everyone else’s score and an aggregated city score. They can see where there is agreement and disagreement.”


The benchmark has been piloted with six cities from the UK, Ireland, US and Mexico and these will be uploaded over the next two weeks. Wilson added that there are five cities waiting to use it once it goes online.


“As more cities take the benchmark and openly publish their results, the more everyone involved can learn from each other. “This journey will continue for the next 15 years before it begins to settle down. By which time we will be living in a very different world with smart services everywhere.”


The Smart Cities Benchmark app can be downloaded from the Appstore (search for ‘Smart City Benchmark’). An Android version will be out by the end of January.


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