Committed to connecting the world


World Intelligent Cities Summit

Istanbul, Turkey, 13 September 2012

Keynote Address

Distinguished participants, Ladies and gentlemen,

Günaydın, good morning

It is a great pleasure to be with you this morning in this beautiful city of Istanbul.

What better venue for an event on intelligent cities?

Istanbul spans two continents, is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world, and a true melting pot of cultures. This city, as much as any, is acutely aware of the challenges of urbanization in the 21st century.

I would like to thank the organisers for their invitation to ITU to participate in this World Intelligent Cities Summit.

I am aware however that there is another more famous ITU in Istanbul – the Istanbul Technical University. Interestingly, I Googled ITU last night and discovered that Istanbul Technical University comes first and the International Telecommunication Union comes second! I also discovered that the University is 239 years old – 92 years older that the Union.

So let me start by saying a few words about ITU (Geneva). It is the UN agency for information and communication technologies and is based in Geneva. It is the oldest intergovernmental organisation having been founded in 1865 to address the problem of lack of international interoperability of the new telegraph service. So it was originally called the International Telegraph Union and took its current name in 1934. Today many people call for another change of name as the organisation is dealing with a wide range of ICT issues rather than simply “telecommunications” as most people think of telecommunications. However the ITU definition of telecommunications is all encompassing so it is not really necessary to change the name.

ITU is a multistakeholder organization: its membership includes governments, regulators, industry, academia, international organizations (intergovernmental and non-governmental), financial institutions, and civil society — all participating in different capacities and in a wide range of ITU’s activities.

These activities are split between three sectors:

Radiocommunication: ITU-R plays a vital role in the global management of the radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits - limited natural resources which are increasingly in demand for services such as fixed, broadcasting, emergency telecommunications, meteorology, global positioning systems, and especially mobile.

Development: ITU-D concentrates on issues related to bridging the digital divide including the provision of assistance to developing countries in putting into practice competitive ICT markets and measuring the advance of the information society.

And standardization… dealt with in ITU-T.

International standardization is very important. ITU standards continue to strive to achieve the objectives of the founders of ITU – international interoperability. It is the reason there are 6 billion mobile phones and 2.4 billion Internet users in the world. It is not an exaggeration to say that the world of ICTs would not function without ITU standards.

So ITU has an important role to play in achieving smart cities of the future, and with UN Habitat estimating that in the first part of the 21st century up to 70 per cent of the world’s population will reside in urban areas, we must focus on all tools that can help improve urban environments.

Achieving sustainable urbanization has been recognized as one of society’s major challenges.

Cities are responsible for more than 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions and they are accountable for 60-80% of the global energy consumption, contributing to environmental degradation locally, regionally and globally.

ICTs are a powerful tool to make our cities better places to live in.

Thanks to ICTs, cities of the future can be safer, cleaner, and more convenient places to live.

ICTs can help manage smart buildings that power themselves and then feed energy back into the electricity grid, a smart grid providing much more efficient distribution.

ITU’s home networking technology standard will provide links to smart electricity meters, feeding information that reduces waste and saves green house gas emissions.

Intelligent transport systems (ITS) can clear our cities of debilitating pollutants and traffic jams. In connected cities you will be directed to the nearest available parking space, GPS enabled systems will make traffic flow better and intelligent ambient lighting will appear only when and where it’s needed.

ITS can also be applied to public transport, to respond more efficiently to customer needs as well as providing the means for electric cars to act as distributed energy storage in network downtime. In this crossover area of ICTs and transport, ITU is actively exploring standards and hosts an annual workshop: the Fully Networked Car@Geneva Motor Show.

Cloud computing offers to power many of these applications and ITU is developing standards to ensure security of the data and interoperability of the various emerging cloud solutions.

Urban broadband access for everyone will help to create a level playing field of opportunities for the urban under privileged. Teleworking, already happening today, will only increase as urban environments implement universal access, enabling more flexible and efficient working conditions.

Sensor networks and artificial intelligence will become embedded into the physical environment of our cities. It is estimated that by 2020 there will be 50 billion devices connected to the telecommunication network.

The fibre optic networks that carry this vast amount of global data interoperate because of standards agreed in ITU.

The growth of the Internet has been in no small part a result of ITU standards for Internet access – firstly with modems and now via broadband.

Video over the Internet is facilitated by an ITU standard – H.264.

Another ITU standard that has been very well received is the universal charger for mobile phones… an achievement that promises a vast reduction in global e-waste and energy consumption.

ITU has developed a set of methodologies to estimate just how much ICTs can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

These methodologies are specifically designed to assess the environmental impact of ICT in cities, and urban areas.

They can be used to provide a baseline GHG emission figure which can be periodically updated to track progress on emissions reduction.

They are crucial tools to prove the case for implementation of smart city strategies.

ITU’s members – a public/private partnership to connect the world – have enabled all of this.

We are now well-positioned to meet the next challenge of enabling sustainability across all sectors with one of the most powerful tools that we have to hand… ICTs.

For those of you that are not members of ITU I encourage you take part… ITU is an open and contribution driven organization. We welcome your support and ideas.

Lastly I would like to invite you all to our Forum on Smart Cities organized together with the European Commission that will take place on 17 September in Paris. It’s part of a weeklong cluster of events called Green Standards Week.

Participation is free of charge and everyone is welcome. I hope to see you there.

Details of this event and all our activities can be found on our website.

Thank you for your attention.