Standards can play an important role in helping cities as they use data and technology to transform how they function.
However, developing successful smart city standards will require the collaboration of many stakeholders, from international standardization organizations that can produce a coherent package of city standards to groups such as government representatives, industry and residents.
In an effort to bring together standardization organizations developing smart city standards, the Connected Places Catapult hosted international experts in smart city standardization during the International Smart City Standards Conference held on 17 July. The conference was held in partnership with the IEC Systems Committee on Smart Cities and the ISO/IEC JTC 1 Working Group on Smart Cities. This is the first time that these two standardization groups have come together with the aim of developing a collaborative approach to producing smart city standards.
Standards can help
During the conference, Michael Mulquin, Chair of the IEC SyC on Smart cities provided participants with a better understanding of the importance of smart city standards. According to Mulquin, standards are often considered to be about products and process. But they also provide a clear description of agreed best practices. As Mulquin noted, they offer “a common solution for a mutual problem”.
Standards can also accelerate the move to smarter cities through economies of scale. Mulquin noted that “standards build scale. Many cities implementing the same things will lead to cheaper and better products”. In addition, city planners do not need to worry about being locked into a single vendor or that different technologies will not fit together.
According to Mulquin, “standards offer a consensus-based approach to identifying workable solutions”. They are considered objective and unbiaised, offering solutions that are trusted. And, with input from city planners, industry and academia, they represent the interest of all parties involved.
Standards can also provide definitions and frameworks to help smart city planners communicate. Mulquin noted, “they define the key things and concepts within a domain and show their relationships with each other. They help me understand the smart city and talk about it with others”.
Standards offer a means to measure and guide progress. The use of assessment methods such as indicators/KPIs or maturity models can give a precise measure against which a city can assess its progress.
Work of IEC SyC Smart cities
Standards are already vital to cities used for energy grids, lighting, transport and city services. The IEC has identified over 1800 standards that already impact smart cities.
The IEC has taken a systems approach to smart cities with the aim of providing a holistic approach to address complex situations. The SyC Smart cities is active in coordinating the standards work of various IEC committees as well as other groups such as ISO with the aim of promoting the development of standards to assist in the integration, interoperability and effectiveness of city systems.
SyC Smart City is currently developing a new standard, IEC 63152, as a best practice tool for city planners. Given the increased frequency of natural disasters and the destruction they cause, this draft standard proposes guidelines to sustain a variety of city services following a disruption. It provides the basic concepts of how multiple city services can cooperate to maintain the supply of electricity.
It is also considering work on a smart city reference architecture which would offer practical guidance and methodology on how to achieve the essential characteristics of a smart city.