Emerging Trends | ICT4SDG | SDG11 | Smart Cities | Standards
August 18, 2020

How UN collaboration supports smart city action

By Kari Aina Eik, Secretary General OiER and Leader of the U4SSC Implementation Programme

The U4SSC Implementation Programme develops and facilitates concrete projects and activities in support of smart city innovation worldwide.

The programme was set up in October 2019 under the umbrella of the United for Smart Sustainable Cities Initiative (U4SSC) and launched at ITU Green Standards Week in Valencia, Spain. U4SSC is supported by 17 UN bodies with aim of achieving Goal 11 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.

U4SSC Key Performance Indicators for Smart Sustainable Cities enable cities to assess their progress towards smart city objectives and the alignment of this progress with SDGs.

These KPIs provide key support to the work of U4SSC Implementation Programme.

As the implementation arm of U4SSC, the programme helps cities to act on the lessons learnt from their KPI evaluations.

Towards comprehensive national action

With the lead of ITU in cooperation with the Organization of International Economic Relations, a growing number of cities have successfully completed an evaluation using the U4SSC KPIs.

The KPI evaluation has the potential to inform local priorities and direct the local transition towards smarter and more sustainable cities and societies.

But while the evaluation helps cities and businesses to identify the potential for sustainable value creation, the findings are no guarantee that the potential is realized.

It is paramount that the KPI evaluation is fed back into policy innovation, to become part of a city’s planning and budgeting process, procurement processes, organisational development process and ultimately part of the project development processes that will help transform both the built and social environment of the local community.

In order to accommodate the KPIs within the overall development cycle of the cities there is a need to have a more comprehensive approach, looking not just at the KPI results, but at wider national context for planning and action – that is the key focus of the U4SSC Implementation Programme, working together with national stakeholders and cities.

In the past months, the U4SSC KPIs have been applied by Krimpen aan den IJssl and Rijswijk in the Netherlands, as well as 14 cities and communities in Norway, with Ålesund, Giske and Sula municipalities leading the way.

These projects have all confirmed the high value and relevance of the U4SSC KPIs to local governments. The feedback of the cities’ decision-makers has been that the KPIs provide a comprehensive and relevant tool, covering and supporting the strategies and priorities needed for smart and sustainable city development.

Norway’s national ambitions

Norway has been the first country to establish a nationwide KPI evaluation project. This comprehensive five-year project supports the realization of the SDGs in Norway, with a specific focus on SDG11.

The U4SSC KPIs are used to evaluate and monitor progress across multiple cities and regions in Norway, affording Norway a networked approach to sustainable development where findings from the KPI evaluations are used to identify solutions that correspond to opportunities shared across cities.

By benchmarking the cities using the same standard, the project explores how actors, activities and resources can be organised to accelerate the cities’ transition to smarter and more sustainable societies. Increasing both the speed and accuracy of the transition represents an important contribution to other cities working to achieve the SDGs.

The U4SSC Implementation Programme is also helping Norway to establish a range of new national projects in support of smart city innovation, working in close cooperation Norway’s national programme for smart cities.

We welcome your participation

The U4SSC Implementation Programme is open to all cities and communities. We are supporting the many new partnerships driving smart city projects.

We are helping cities to achieve meaningful progress with the help of the U4SSC KPIs. We are advancing best practices in the use and processing of city data. We are supporting the development and testing of ‘digital twin’ city simulations. We are developing guidance on procurement processes attuned to the digital era and the SDGs. We are developing learning programs and supporting knowledge facilitation on Smart Sustainable Cities. And we come together in U4SSC to test the smart city tools and solutions provided by the private sector, academia and U4SSC partners.

Learn more about our work and contact us on the U4SSC homepage >

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How UN collaboration supports smart city action

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