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New platform launched for cities around the world to share big data and build better environments for their citizens

Date
15 May 2014
New platform launched for cities around the world to share big data and build better environments for their citizens

LONDON: Today an international platform for bringing together open, globally comparable data for cities was launched in Toronto, to help city leaders build better, cleaner, more efficient environments for their citizens. 

The platform, called the World Council on City Data (WCCD), is the result of the University of Toronto's Global City Indicators Facility (GCIF) work on developing globally standardized data for cities, and was kick-started by the recent approval of the world's first ISO Standard on city metrics.

Global standard

Having a certified ISO International Standard is a globally recognized way of ensuring products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality. The standard for city metrics was published today as ISO 37120 at the inaugural Global Cities Summit in Toronto, where the Council was also launched.

The Council will act as a global hub for cities, international organizations, corporates and academia to share creative ideas that could help build better, more 'liveable' cities, using the ISO 37120 to measure their success.

Professor Patricia McCarney, Director of the GCIF at the University of Toronto, explained the new ISO: “ISO37120 is a milestone for cities. The Creation of the World Council on City Data is a pivotal next step in building a reliable foundation of globally standardized data that will assist cities in building core knowledge for city decision-making, and enable comparative insight and global benchmarking. In a world where city data is exploding and big data is escalating, we are now moving forward in building the WCCD as an open data platform on global city metrics.”

City data

The Council has invited a select group of cities – including Shanghai, London, Toronto, Dubai, Haiphong, Amman, Makkah, Chicago, Johannesburg, Buenos Aires, Helsinki, Barcelona, Rotterdam, Makati, Minna and Bogota – to become Foundation Cities of the Council.

Although the Council headquarters will be in Toronto, the Foundation Cities' role is to help develop and drive the Council agenda forward with the other partners.

“Here in London, we really welcome joining the WCCD,” said Andrew Collinge, Assistant Director of Intelligence, Greater London Authority. “There has never been a time where it’s more important to understand how we as a global city compare with other cities so we can learn from them and actually use data to address challenges that are facing all of our cities.”

London Mayor Boris Johnson says the biggest challenge for him is London's surging population, which is on track to top 10 million by 2030, commenting: “That’s a lot of people who will need jobs and homes and a quick and convenient way of getting from one to the other."

Open access to large amounts of data from cities that are also dealing with booming numbers of residents will be critical for London to adequately address the challenges that are likely arise, such as the impact more people will have on current transport infrastructure.

Collaboration

City leaders have expressed their appreciation of the platform's ability to boost collaboration between jurisdictions, including Manel Sanromà, CIO, Barcelona, who says the city is "very interested in this initiative, having been nominated European Capital of Innovation by the European Commission. Barcelona believes deeply in the value of collaboration and standardization.”

Businesses too, are keen to contribute to the Council. Corporate partner Philips, a member of The Climate Group, will work with world-leading organizations on a collaborative program called the Energy Efficiency Accelerators that will feed into the platform.

Harry Verhaar, Senior Director Energy & Climate Change at Philips Lighting, explained the project: "Along with The Climate Group and the United Nations, Philips will work with the World Cities Institute on the Energy Efficiency Accelerators, which aims to tackle global climate change by accelerating energy efficiency in buildings, lighting and appliances, and other sectors - with cities as the platform that delivers these energy savings by innovating their infrastructure. We will share our progress at the September 23 UN Climate Summit in NYC."

The UN Climate Summit coincides with Climate Week NYC 2014, which this year runs from September 22-26. Climate Week NYC is a key international platform for governments, businesses and civil society to collaborate on low carbon leadership, through a week filled with events, activities and high-profile meetings. 

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By Clare Saxon

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