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Digital Subscriptions > Cities Today > Cities Today 20 > The value of global standards in city management

The value of global standards in city management

Can you tell me more about ISO 37120 and how the World Council on City Data (WCCD) came to lead its global implementation?

ISO 37120 is the first international standard for cities and it’s the first time that ISO has ever had a standard dedicated to city data. ISO has standards for automobile parts and light bulbs for cellphone components and so on, but cities have not been part of the ISO work in the past. In 2012, we approached ISO in Geneva and advised them that we had been developing a set of indicators for cities since 2006, developing standardised definitions and methodologies. At that time we had built the Global City Indicators Facility (GCIF) at the University of Toronto, working with the World Bank that had identified the serious gap in data for cities and the need to develop a common language for cities. Once you have standardised data for cities, cities can talk to each other and learn from each other. As part of our platform, we now position data as the universal language for cities.

Can you talk about the process of establishing ISO 37120?

It took my colleagues and I at WCCD two years to guide the passage of ISO 37120 through to publication inside the ISO. Cities helped to develop the indicators themselves and countries voted on a series of drafts during the ISO process. We reached consensus on 100 indicators with standardised definitions and standardised methodologies. These were reviewed and vetted over the two years. It went through several revisions with hundreds of comments from voting country members through the ISO process. ISO37120 was published in May 2014 and introduced at the Global Cities Summit in Toronto at that time.

Patricia McCarney, President and CEO of the World Council on City Data
Photo: WCCD
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Cities without borders How mayors are taking the lead on the migrant crisis - The new role of insurers in resilience planning - Which city will be first to carbon neutrality? -The need for global standards on urban data Cities Today is the only global magazine containing analysis, comment and best practices on sustainable urban development, connecting local governments with public and private sector solutions. With an expert editorial advisory board comprising the World Bank, UN-Habitat, UNEP, and city associations ICLEI, C40, UCLG ASPAC, UCLG Africa, UCLG MEWA, Sister Cities International and FLACMA, the publication highlights the challenges facing city leaders and local governments in mobility, finance, smart technology, health care, energy efficiency, water, sanitation, security and housing

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