Source:  IEC Blog (

Our world is constantly shaped by so-called mega-trends: trends that are broad, global, and dramatically impactful. No matter what lenses are applied, urbanisation is one of those predominant mega-trends, which is changing our cities and the way most of us live.

With the projection that 68% of world population will be living in cities by 2050, cities will be the homes for most of us to live, dream and achieve.

On the other hand, such cities will experience an increase in inequality between societal groups with respect to resource, social status, economic power etc. What we do today for our cities will have an impact on our collective future.

Under this trend, Smart Cities are emerging across the world. The concept itself originates from 1990s. However, due to the rise of smart devices, unprecedented network connectivity, and the growing computing and analysing capability, the trend of digitally connected cities is growing rapidly. Whether you feel excited, passionate, curious, threatened, or even scared; Smart Cities are becoming a normal feature of urban life.

Interestingly, Smart Cities do not have a single defining feature, as there is still no universal definition. In fact, it highly depends on what perspective is used to view the topic. For example, it can be viewed from a horizontal-vertical domain perspective or from an asset lifecycle perspective. This is largely due to the breadth of the Smart Cities scope, different stakeholders’ focus areas, and the ever-evolving concept and technology. As a social-technical experiment with many knowns and unknowns, many considerations should be given when its development is still at the very beginning.

We should consider data first. Data has become one of the most precious assets of our cities. However, in many smart cities’ projects, we have seen that technology is implemented first without thinking of the use case of data governance. A data-driven smart city should place citizens’ privacy and trust in the first place. If misused, data could be detrimental that could cause disastrous consequences to all stakeholders and shake the faith in Smart Cities experiments.

We should collaborate on a larger scale. Within the cities, collaboration is critical both horizontally and vertically across domains, such as utility services, transportation, public services and built environment. A cross-disciplinary approach is very important for Smart Cities’ success – because we do not want to build silo systems in Smart Cities. On the international level, successful experiments in one city should be shared and replicated to other cities where relevant and for the lessons learnt.

We should follow a citizen-centric design approach. Technology should never be implemented for its own sake. It must solve actual problems and add value to citizens. Rather than being icing on the cake, Smart Cities should become indispensable to solve pressing problems in urbanisation. Not only in wealthy cities, but more imperatively, in under-developed, over-crowded, and resource-scarce cities.

That is why we should develop standards. Standards reflect the collaboration of industries and countries, reflect successful reference solutions, and reflect the current best practice. Global experts from the IEC community have been collaborating and developing standards, from holistic reference models to domain-specific applications. Eventually, we want to see that no matter what aspects of Smart Cities are discussed, there will be standards that provide reliable guidelines and trustworthy solutions for the design of future Smart Cities.

We still have many miles to go in this standardisation journey.


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