The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) supports technical studies and continual engagement between governments, industry, and other stakeholders to improve the reliability, security, and interoperability of urban ICT infrastructure. At the same time, ITU promotes the use of ICTs to reduce the energy consumption, enhance services, and improve quality of life for city dwellers.
ITU and its members within
ITU-T Study Group 20, which is dedicated to IoT, smart cities and communities, have been developing international standards that establish technical criteria, processes, and practices to enable the coordinated development of IoT technologies for smart sustainable cities. Most recently, the study group has been working on topics including AI, blockchain, machine-to-machine communication and Big Data aspects of IoT.
ITU-T Study Group 20 is developing standards on digital inclusion in smart cities, next generation urban assessments, maturity model for digital supply chains, digital transformation in smart cities, crowdsourcing for urban infrastructure monitoring, smart fire protection, smart buildings, data middle-platform in IoT, among others.
From 2017-2019, the
ITU Focus Group on Data Processing and Management to support IoT and Smart Cities & Communities developed technical specifications and reports to allow the IoT ecosystem to be fully inclusive, interoperable and capable of making full use of the data generated by the devices feeding into the system. This work aimed to mitigate the risk of data ´silos´ emerging in different industry sectors.
In October 2021, ITU-T Study Group 20 established the
Focus Group on “Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) for Digital Agriculture" (FG-AI4A),which will examine the potential of AI, IoT and other emerging technologies for supporting data collation, improving agriculture systems modelling, and fostering effective communication for the optimization of agricultural production processes. These activities of FG-AI4A will be conducted in close collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to underscore the existing gaps in current standardization terrain on digital agriculture.
ITU has also recently developed standards ensuring the security of networks in urban areas. ITU standards for 5G systems is also helping make smart sustainable cities a reality. ITU standards outline how smart grids can help build more controllable and efficient energy systems.
Global collaboration and advocacy
The ITU, together with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and UN-HABITAT coordinate the global platform "United for Smart Sustainable Cities " (U4SSC) to advocate for public policy and to encourage the use of ICTs to facilitate and ease the transition to smart sustainable cities. The platform is supported by 14 other United Nations bodies. The U4SSC has developed a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) for smart sustainable cities, allowing cities to set goals, collect data and measure progress in five major areas: the use of ICTs; physical infrastructure; social inclusion and equity of access to services; quality of life; and environmental sustainability. More than 50 cities worldwide, including Bizerte, Dubai, Daegu, Kairouan, Maldonado, Manizales, Montevideo, Moscow, Pully, Rimini, Singapore, Valencia and Wuxi, are already implementing these KPIs.
The integration of emerging technologies to support smart city transformations is vital. U4SSC has been exploring the adoption of various advanced technologies including blockchain, machine-learning, digital twin, AI and have launched a series of reports on these themes.
Through its Thematic Groups, the U4SSC has also been developing reports and guidelines on a variety of other topics including solutions for integrated smart city platforms, innovative solutions for smart cities, principles for AI implementation in cities along with procurement guidelines for the establishment of smart cities. Realizing the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on smart city transitions, U4SSC is also examining use-cases relating to driving economic recovery to boost urban resilience.
Since 2021, ITU has been organizing a series of webinars on "Digital transformation for cities and communities" which will continue in 2022.
Making Rural Communities Smarter and more Sustainable
Smart Villages and Islands approach promoted by ITU-D involves a new design and implementation framework that is demand-driven, user-centric, flexible, and is focused on sustainability, scalability, and multi-sector collaboration. In particular, it emphasizes reusability of the same solutions for simultaneous contribution to different user needs through the establishment of a single integrated platform that can provide a range of services in different sectors leveraging a few interoperable infrastructure elements, thereby significantly reducing the cost.
The transformation of remote rural villages and islands into smart villages and islands will improve quality of life by providing connectivity and new ICT-enabled services to the local communities while also promoting interoperability, cooperation, and new services.
piloted in Niger, similar solutions are not developed in a range of other countries, including in the
Pacific region. By implementing and promoting Smart Villages and Smart Island projects, ITU seeks to deliver connectivity and an integrated suite of scalable and sustainable services to disadvantaged island communities that leverages interoperability and multi-functionality of ICT infrastructure.
Below are just a few examples showing how ICTs are helping to build smart sustainable cities:
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, traffic anti-congestion measures, including adaptive traffic control or prioritization measures, are employed by the city. The intelligent transport system monitors and manages the city's traffic through various sensors and the smart CCTV surveillance system. It utilizes advanced analytics to conduct historical, real-time, predictive traffic analysis, including contextualized incident and traffic reporting, to inform traffic dashboards and KPIs for reporting.
Mashhad, Iran (Islamic Republic of), implemented a smart recyclable waste collection program to improve recycling rates. Mashhad developed SIMAP, a mobile application to provide information on waste recycling streams to encourage people to improve their waste separation and recycling participation.
Moscow, Russia, its entire traffic and transport network is managed by a traffic management centre. Comprised of over 2000 traffic lights, 3500 traffic detectors and 2000 CCTV cameras, the data from these devices are transferred to the city's Traffic Management Centre. A high-tech real-time data-driven system of traffic flow analysis that identified redundant or needful traffic arrangements accordingly.
Singapore developed Virtual Singapore, a dynamic 3D city model and collaborative platform supporting city stakeholders in driving innovation. Virtual Singapore has enabled city stakeholders to use valuable insights derived from its program for policy and business analysis, decision making, test-bedding of ideas.
Valencia, Spain, developed a cloud-based internal city management system, the
VLCi Platform. The platform allows the city to collect data on key indicators for the city's urban services, analyse them using advanced tools, and then develop dashboards to help decision-making. It allows for greater citizen engagement through transparency.
Texel, Netherlands, rolled out a new intelligent, energy-efficient street lighting infrastructure across the city. Utilizing a combination of LED's and IoT sensors brings considerable energy savings and reduces light pollution.
Last update: December 2021