Smart and Sustainable Environments: an open goal-oriented overview of standards to help judge “best of breed”

PROGRESSIVE has examined a large number of guidelines and specifications for Smart City solutions, searching for those which recognise the needs of users and not just optimal technical deployments. There is a possibility now to leverage the work that is ongoing in the European Standards Organisations’ joint strategy and advisory committee called Sector Forum for Smart and Sustainable Cities and Communities.

Working with the team which is collating the various Smart City standards from the three European Standards Organisations (CEN, CENELEC, ETSI) and the international standardization organisations (ISO, IEC, ITU), the Sector Forum for Smart and Sustainable Cities and Communities (SF-SSCC) is pivoting the analysis towards a goal-oriented approach, rather than a technology-driven one. Users of standards, local authorities (i.e. mayors and municipal councils), city planners and building architects and multi-mode transport planners, as well as citizens (for enhanced engagement and pro-active participation) need to ask “what standards relate to my problem X”, not “I like technology Y, what is it good for.”

Pivoting this way is not easy: nearly all standards are written by engineers who are experts in a particular technologies or sectors, not by users who do not care as much about what technology is used, as long as it solves problems for them. For a city, main issues can be summarized as follows: attractiveness, preservation and improvement of environment, resilience, responsible resource use, social cohesion, well-being.


Identifying standards for smart and sustainable development of cities and communities

The team in CEN-CENELEC-ETSI SF-SSCC has decided to use a “drill down” approach, which offers a graphical view, like the branches and leaves of a tree: the first five branches which viewers are shown are the main solution areas – (1) people, (2) planet, (3) prosperity, (4) governance, and (5) politics, as used in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) for instance.

Each branch then can be examined in more detail to show solution areas like e.g. mobility, health or environment. Each such sub-branch itself can be examined in more detail to see e.g. guidelines or overviews or specific solutions, including Key Performance Indicators for measuring successful deployments, each standard being labelled with the name of the Standard Development Organisation (SDO) which developed it and the title of the specification, each specification underlined with a direct hyperlink to the document itself. The tool is called a “mindmap” and there are many open-source software package which can display it.

Such an overview is very useful to discover what standards already exist in a specific area, independent of which standards body was the originator, but it has two weaknesses: (a) keeping the overview up to date, (b) prioritizing the various standards according to “best of breed” or “best for scenarios of type XYZ”.


Make it useful for smart city planners

Both those issues are where the real work of PROGRESSIVE, and of you – potential users of this standards map, really begins. We need to continue to insist on the importance of an up-to-date, open, goal-oriented overview of standards, accessible and useful to Smart City planners, and to continue motivating the SDOs to update their areas.

But even more, we need to work with other organisations to get consensus on what constitutes “best practice” for end users. This judgement can only be done by the end users, after seeing results of many trials and examples. Fortunately, the European Union is co-funding a large number of such trials, within various programs and activities. The SF-SSCC team is fully supporting an open overview of standards and is committed to making the mindmap widely accessible (multiple copies on websites of partner organisations, soon including PROGRESSIVE).

You can contribute to this work by commenting on the approach, suggesting new “branches” in the mindmap, and commenting on various standards. PROGRESSIVE will soon provide an online form to let you do so. Get involved!

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